Monday, March 17, 2014

Five Diets

Healthy eating is key to good health. The following plans can be helpful roadmaps to making lasting changes.

The DASH Diet
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension is nutritionally complete, can prevent or control diabetes and encourages heart health. The DASH  diet emphasizes portion size, food variety and nutrients.

The Mayo Clinic Diet
This diet uses the Mayo Clinic Health Weight Pyramid as a guide to smart eating and healthy exercise. The  diet is broken into two parts: a two-week "Lose It" phase and a "Live It" phase based on steady weight loss and healthy living. You can preview the book before buying.

The Mediterranean Diet
This diet emphasizes fruits and vegetables, healthy oils, and fish. It limits the in tae of red meat and butter. Research shows the Mediterranean Diet can reduce heart disease risk.

Weight Watchers
Weight Watchers is the commercial plan that has stood the test of time. It is not necessary to buy any of the products to learn how to manage food intake and make wise choices.

TLC Diet
The Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet was created by the National Institutes of Health to promote cardiovascular health. The TLC Diet limits calories, consumption of saturated fat and sodium.

Bon Appetit!

This list of diets originally appeared in Medical Economics.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Spring Cleaning

The days are finally getting longer and the sun is brighter – time for spring cleaning! The first warms days are inviting enough to open the windows and get some fresh air into the house. It’s tempting to start a top to bottom, no holds barred project but you will have a better outcome if you choose realistic goals and focus on one thing at a time.

Look around the area in which you spend the most time. Is it the kitchen, bedroom or reading area? Start by taking some photos of the area – the clutter that you no longer see will be obvious in the photo. Get rid of the stuff you don’t use or love. Pretend that you are Martha Stewart and really get rid of the grime. (Martha’s website is an excellent resource). Deep vacuum and clean all surfaces non-toxic cleaners such as vinegar and baking soda. Mr. Clean magic eraser is another good option.

Another spring project is cleaning out the pantry. Check the expiration dates on the canned goods – don’t be surprised to see what went out of date in 2009. Are there purchases that were mistakes? If still good, donate them to the local food pantry.

Being surrounded by a mess is exhausting.  A clean, serene environment is good for mental health. One cannot separate mind from body: it’s easier to make wise health choices when surrounded by beauty. It’s the secret ingredient at the most posh spas.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sudden Cardiac Death

There is compelling evidence that psychosocial factors can cause sudden cardiac death. Overwhelming emotion can cause arrhythmia and spasm of the coronary arteries; individually or together these could lead to fatal interruption of blood flow the heart muscles.

Like heart attacks, sudden arrhythmias are most likely to occur in the morning with the peak frequency between 8 and 11 am (more specifically, the first two hours after arising). The incidence of cardiac arrests peaks on Mondays and has the greatest incidence in winter.

Intense stressors, such as earthquakes, are associated with increased cardiac mortality. Collected data from implantable defibrillators showed an increase in arrhythmias both in the New York City area and around the world on 9/11. A diagnosis of cancer may increase the risk of cardiovascular death. A cohort study using multiple registries examined the risk in more than 6,000,000 Swedes from 1991 through 2006; compared with cancer-free individuals, patients diagnosed with cancer were six times more likely to die from cardiovascular causes within one week of receiving the diagnosis.

Depression and hostility are behaviors that are associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease related events. Increased mortality following a heart attack is seen with social isolation and lack of emotional support.

In summary, considerable data supports a role for psychosocial factors in sudden death — both acutely with anger and chronically with states of depression, hostility, and social isolation. Stress management, combined with beta-blockers and aspirin may be helpful interventions.