Cholesterol – Understanding the Numbers

Monday, February 25, 2013 3:50 PM comments (0)

High-CholesterolRoutine blood work can be done to test whether or not you have high cholesterol. The challenge for many lies in determining what the numbers mean and what risks you may be at for developing other health conditions, including heart disease.

This blood work measures three different components:

  • LDL (low-density lipoproteins), otherwise known as “bad” cholesterol
  • HDL (high-density lipoproteins) or “good” cholesterol 
  • Triglycerides

The general standard for healthy levels state your LDL should optimally be below 100, HDL should be above 40 for men and above 50 for women, and your triglycerides value should stay below 150. So what can you do if your levels are a little high?

Jeffrey Marogil, MD, Cardiologist at NorthShore, offers the following suggestions for keeping your cholesterol in check:

  • Get regular aerobic exercise and work at losing excess weight. Even losing a small amount of extra weight, such as five to 10 pounds can be a big help. If you aren’t sure what diet is best, seek a registered dietitian to get you off on the right foot.
  • Avoid all trans fats. These are artificial fats that your body is not designed to handle. Also, be sure to read labels and avoid items that include partially hydrogenated oils, as these contain some trans fats.
  • Learn which fats are “good” fats. When trying to lose weight you shouldn’t cut out all fats— the body needs fat and some (like the Omega 3 fatty acids) are helpful for optimal cholesterol levels. A good rule of thumb to follow is to replace some of your carbohydrates with vegetables when trying to lose weight.
  • Know your family history and other risk factors. Medical problems such as diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, smoking and obesity, along with a family history of high cholesterol or coronary artery disease, can be reasons for getting screened more frequently.

Do you know what your cholesterol levels are? Have you made any changes in your diet or lifestyle to reduce them?

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Living a Heart-Healthy Life

Friday, February 08, 2013 8:31 AM comments (0)

 

Heart-Health-blogLet’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:

  • Maintain a healthy weight and exercise often. Physical activity not only has great benefits on our cardiovascular system—improvements can often be seen within a few weeks of beginning a routine—but it also can reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels. This in turn can help reduce your chances of developing heart disease.
  • Give up tobacco for good. Smoking takes a toll on your lungs, but it does the same for your body. Smokers have a much higher risk of developing coronary heart disease than those who don’t smoke.
  • Eat right and watch your portions. A smart, nutritious diet can greatly improve many body functions—and the heart is one of them. If you have a hard time watching your portions, try to eat slower. You may be surprised to learn you’re full before needing to reach for seconds.
  • Eliminate stress and focus on the positive. We live in a world where multi-tasking has become the new normal. Be sure to take time out of your busy day on a daily basis to unwind and relax.
  • Know your genes. If heart disease runs in your family, you may want to pay closer attention to ways to keep your heart healthy. You may also want to consult with your physician to see what other prevention and early detection measures you should employ to reduce your risk.

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?

 

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Arthritis Pain – Methods for Treatment

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 9:03 AM comments (0)

Arthritis PainThere are many supplements on the market to help treat arthritis pain—some more widely accepted and used than others. One of the more common supplements, glucosamine, has become a popular treatment option, but has also been under some debate about its effectiveness.

Leslie Mendoza Temple, MD, Director of the Integrative Medicine program, says that clinically she has seen that glucosamine and chondroitin with MSM has been helpful for treating arthritic pain. However, she also recommends that if you have concerns you can go off of it. If your arthritis pain comes back and you haven’t done anything differently, you can always go back on it.  It can have interactions with medications like the blood thinner, warfarin, so be sure to check with your doctor whether you may safely take this supplement.

She also provides some tips and recommendations for alternative treatment methods of mild-to- moderate arthritis:

  • Use herbs like turmeric and ginger regularly in your cooking. Turmeric can be made into a thick paste with sea salt and water, and applied to the outside of the joint for at least 10 minutes as needed or daily.  This acts as a cool compress to reduce an inflamed or achy joint.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids (from fish oil or ground flaxseeds) have an anti-inflammatory effect and are excellent for heart health.  
  • Vitamin D is very important for bone density and can help with body pain when replaced in deficient individuals. Note that it is possible to overdose on Vitamin D, so you should consult with your physician for advice on vitamin D dosing.
  • Try drinking sour cherry juice daily because it can take the edge off of arthritis pain. Flavor the tart beverage with a small amount of sweetener like Stevia or other fruit juice if necessary. Tart cherry juice is available in grocery and health food stores. 
  • Reduce your refined sugar intake.  
  • Keep your weight in check and exercise regularly.  
  • Pain is often associated with your mind – body connection. Be sure that you are sleeping well and managing stress in a healthy way.

What methods do you employ to reduce pain? Have you seen a connection between your lifestyle (diet, sleep and stress levels) with your pain?

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Diabetes - Knowing the Symptoms and Your Risk

Monday, January 23, 2012 8:20 AM comments (1)

This past week, diabetes has taken the spotlight after celebrity chef Paula Deen announced that she has Type 2 diabetes. As the most common form of diabetes, this condition affects more than eight percent of children and adults in the United States.

Mary Bennett, RD, LDN, CDE, a Diabetes Education Manager at NorthShore, identifies who is at risk for being diagnosed with diabetes. She also talks about key symptoms to be mindful of in her video interview.

Diabetes

According to Bennett, the following risk factors exist for diabetes:

  • Family history of diabetes
  • Lack of physical exercise (less than 150 minutes each week)
  • Being overweight
  • High blood pressure (more than 130/80)
  • Being over 40 years old
  • Giving birth to a baby weighing more than nine pounds or having had gestational diabetes during pregnancy
  • Being African American, Native American, Asian American, Hispanic, Eastern Asian or Pacific Islander

What are you currently doing to help reduce your risk of diabetes?

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