Saturday, October 29, 2011

How to Make this Halloween Healthy

While sharing an experience with your kids, walking around outside and bonding with your neighbors are great things to come from Halloween, the copious amounts of candy and other unhealthy snacks give me mixed emotions about Halloween. However, there are tips I regularly tell my patients about how they may make it a healthy one.

11 Tips for a Healthy Halloween:
  1. Do not buy Halloween candy in advance. The day before at the earliest to avoid temptation of eating the candy and having to buy more before Halloween comes.
  2. Increase exercise the week of Halloween. Make sure you are getting plenty of lean proteins and fruits and vegetables too.
  3. Fill up your kids with a healthy snack before trick-or-treating to help prevent them from gorging throughout the Halloween festivities.
  4. Make sure the kids and parents walk when they go trick or treating vs. driving them around or using golf cart, etc.
  5. Darker chocolate options for candy is better – more antioxidants.
  6. Make sure to have a full dinner before going trick or treating.
  7. Allow only a few pieces of Halloween candy to be consumed that day. Do not allow the kids to stash the candy in their rooms.
  8. Get involved with a pumpkin carving party or go for an outing at a pumpkin maze. It’s healthy Halloween fun for adults and kids alike.
  9. Host a Halloween party. In supplement to or in lieu of trick-or-treating, try hosting a party where you control what foods are consumed. Include such healthy snacks as vegetables and dip, apples and peanut butter or even whole grain bread and lean meats for sandwiches. Not only is it a healthier option, but good way to bond with your neighbors and other parents.
  10. As the night is coming to an end, watch a Halloween movie with your kids instead of allowing them to acclimate with their new found goodies which could lead to unhealthy blood sugar levels.
  11. Donate the candy the next day to a local charity or church. If you have to dump it, dump it, and don’t feel guilty – after all it’s your family’s health we are talking about.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Heart Failure Hospitalizations Decline – First Ever Documented Decline

Heart Failure is when the heart is unable to pump blood out of the heart efficiently and then fluid backs up into the heart and lungs.  Heart failure occurs from damage to the heart.   Two of the biggest contributors to heart failure are heart attack and high blood pressure.  If a heart pumps against increased pressure for a long period of time the wall of the heart thickens and the heart swells causing an enlarged heart.  Many people do not want to treat their high blood pressure because they don’t feel any different with high blood pressure and would prefer not to be on prescription medications.  Usually what would take 1 or 2 medications to control blood pressure could lead to having to take 5 medications or more to control heart failure later.

The decline in heart failure hospitalizations was reported in the October 19th issue of the Journal of the American MedicalAssociation.   Heart Failure hospitalizations dropped 29.5% nationally over the past decade.  This occurred from 1998 to 2008 as documented through fee for service Medicare claims analysis done by Dr. Jersey Chen and colleagues of Yale University.  This is the first ever documented decline in heart failure hospitalizations in the United States and is reported to have saved $4.1 billion in Medicare costs since 1998.

Reasons given for the decline are better control of risk factors, particularly modest improvements in blood pressure control, better evidence based therapies for heart failure treatment and shift towards better outpatient management.  There is still a lot of work to do to further lower not only heart failure hospitalizations; but, also to lower heart failure incidences. 
Do you know your risk factors for heart failure?  Do you know your blood pressure numbers?  Be an active participant in your health…know your numbers and prevent heart disease in your life.  Click here for simple lifestyle modificationsto help lower blood pressure.  If you have high blood pressure; see your health care provider for optimal recommendations for treatment.