Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S. for both men and women. Genetics, tobacco use, family
history, obesity, an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, stress and diet all contribute to this alarming statistic. And while some heart-healthy changes are easier to make than others, finding a balanced diet that appeals to the entire family, while also possibly
lowering your risk for heart disease, might be easier and more enjoyable than you think.
Studies have shown that the rates of heart disease as well as certain types of cancer, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s were lower for those living in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Researchers were able to determine
that diet played a significant role in keeping the community healthy and living longer. The fundamental components of that diet are known as the Mediterranean diet.
Philip Krause, MD, Interventional Cardiologist at NorthShore, discusses what makes the Mediterranean diet so great for your heart:
Focuses on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. On a typical American plate, meat is the star. On a Mediterranean diet plate, meat plays second fiddle to fresh fruit, vegetables, beans and whole grains. When the focus on the meal shifts
toward fresh fruits and vegetables, the result is a diet rich in vitamins, antioxidants and fiber.
Puts the salt shaker away. Excessive salt consumption can raise your blood pressure, which may damage the arteries leading to your heart. And there’s no doubt about it: Americans consume too much salt. The Mediterranean diet diversifies
the spice rack, favoring spices and herbs over salt.
Cuts down on red meat. Red meat is sidelined in favor of proteins that contain healthy fats like fish, poultry and nuts. Fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can be very beneficial.
Makes olive oil the main source of fat. Just say no to butter. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat and this type of fat may help bring high cholesterol levels in the right direction. It also may help regulate insulin levels in those suffering
from type 2 diabetes.
Allows for a glass of red wine. This is a great perk for the older adherents of the Mediterranean diet. When consumed in moderation (one four-ounce serving per day), red wine can be beneficial to your heart health by reducing LDL cholesterol
levels and increasing HDL cholesterol levels.
Limits portion sizes and cuts the carbs. Just because the Mediterranean diet is healthy doesn’t mean recommended foods can be consumed in unlimited quantities. Watch your portion sizes as you would with any diet or dish. If both weight loss
and heart health are goals, limiting portion sizes along with carbohydrate intake—reducing the consumption of bread, potatoes, rice by 50%—can markedly assist in weight loss.
Share your heart-healthy Mediterranean diet recipes with us on Facebook.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. Each
year, approximately 600,000 people will die of heart disease, nearly half of them women. And yet many still believe that heart disease is a man’s disease. It’s not.
There are some possible differences, however, between men and women when it comes to heart disease.
Brian Shortal, MD, Cardiologist at NorthShore, discusses these differences and the heart disease risk factors that are the same for everyone:
Age. Men are considered at cardiovascular risk starting at 40. Women, on the other hand, are considered at cardiac risk starting at 50. That does not mean that women under the age of 50 have no risk for heart disease, so any symptoms should
not be disregarded. The incidence of heart disease between men and women equalizes around 65, and studies then show that women actually begin to surpass heart disease events in comparison to men.
Symptoms. Typically, men exhibit more classic cardiac symptoms, including pain across the chest that radiates down the arms, back and jaw, and shortness of breath. Women might display more atypical symptoms like nausea, vomiting, dizziness
and syncope (fainting/temporary loss of consciousness). In fact, the most common symptom in women over 80 is not chest pain but shortness of breath.
Risk Factors. The risk factors are the same for both men and women. The major risk factors for coronary artery disease are hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, family history of heart disease, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle.
If you think you might be at risk, see your physician for more information.
Do you know your risk for heart disease?
Let’s put the heart back into February. Aside from Valentine’s Day, this month is a great time to give some heartfelt
attention to our cardiovascular systems. Small changes can be made to your day-to-day routine to help keep your heart in shape.
Hani Salti, MD, shares the following advice for ensuring a healthy heart:
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through their
Million Hearts™ Initiative identifies the “ABCS” of improving cardiovascular care: Aspirin for those at risk; Blood pressure control; Cholesterol management; and Smoking cessation.
How do you keep your heart healthy?
So often when we are making meal choices, we don’t skip a beat to think about the health implications our decisions have on our body. Eating
a well-balanced, nutritious diet is one way to stay healthy, and being diligent about making smart choices day-after-day can also help you feel better (both physically and mentally). Along with these benefits, eating right can help reduce your risk of illness
February is Heart Awareness Month and a great time to focus on your cardiovascular health while still enjoying what you eat.
Kimberly Hammon, Registered Dietitian, gives some nutrition tips on eating right for your heart:
Kimberly shares one of her favorite, healthy recipes to get you on track for a healthy heart.
Easy Chicken Pot Pie:
Cook time: 45 minutes
1 2/3 cups frozen mixed vegetables (thawed)
1 cup cooked chicken (cut-up)
1 can low-fat cream of chicken soup (10 ¾ oz )
1 cup reduced-fat baking mix
½ cup low-fat or skim milk
1/6 of Pie: 180 calories, 3 grams of fat, 13 grams of protein, 420 mg sodium.
Source: Texas Cooperative Extension
What is your favorite healthy recipe?
The middle aged man sat cheering his favorite football team. Just after the game while sitting in front of his TV, he felt strange: lightheaded, sweaty, somewhat short of breath. He tried to stand, but felt worse. So he sat and re-gained his composure.
He noted a slight bead of sweat on his brow and felt like he just couldn’t take a full breath in. Other than that, he didn’t feel too bad at first.
So he waited a bit. “Maybe going outside will help,” he thought. He managed to walk outside and did feel a bit better for a while, but when he returned inside, he felt the same. Slowly, nausea overcame him and he had to go to the bathroom and get sick.
Again after that, he felt improved but never felt back to normal.
He waited a bit more and called his wife. He described to her what he was noticing as she googled his symptoms: some 399,478 search results appeared. She read the list to him: heart trouble, stomach trouble, neurological trouble – the possibilities seemed
endless. Uncertain what to do, they finally decided to call their family doctor.
“Do you have any aspirin in the house?” he asked.
They scoured their cabinets. “I can’t believe it!” she said. “No, we can’t find any.”
“Then why don’t you take him over to the Emergency Room right now to get checked out,” the doctor suggested. They thought about it a bit and because his symptoms had not resolved for over an hour and a half, they agreed.
Upon arrival to the emergency room, he was found to have a sustained heart rate of 206 beats per minute at rest – far outside the normal 50-100 beats per minute he should have had. The process to determine the cause and treatment were started immediately
and, gratefully, he left the hospital several days later with his treatment regimen in place.
So why should you care?
Because sometimes, despite all of the information available to all of us these days thanks to news agencies, public service announcements, smartphones, and instant search engines, heart disease can present in unpredictable, unimaginable ways. When it does:
denial is our worst enemy in providing effective treatment.
So if you’re not sure if your symptoms could be caused by your heart, don’t wait. Get it checked out.
More often than not, you’ll be glad you did.
-Wes Fisher, MD
Have questions about heart disease? Join Dr. Brian Shortal, cardiologist for a live
online chat on Thursday, February 23 from 12-1p.m. Submit your questions in advance.
Despite popular belief, heart disease is the leading cause
of death for both men and women in the United States. Women, in many cases, tend to get heart disease 10 years later than men.
While the symptoms of heart attack and heart disease can vary significantly between the two sexes, the recommendations for prevention do not.
Mark Lampert, MD, Cardiologist at NorthShore, shares his insight on what lifestyle changes women (and men) should be mindful of to promote heart health:
Can you relate to the American Heart Association's
Go Red for Women video? What ways are you ensuring your heart is healthy?