February is American Heart Month, so here are some of the latest things this physician would like you all to know! This information in this blog may be completely new to you (but hopefully not new to your physician):
1. The Meat and Potatoes Diet wasn’t bad because of the meat or the potatoes. It was bad because of the lack of fruit, vegetables, fish and olive oil. Those who eat more of these foods lower their risk for coronary artery disease (think heart attack, bypass surgery, angioplasty), stroke (large and medium arteries) and colon cancer. (There’s a nice bonus.) Modest meat and dairy in your diet is ok as long as half your plate is vegetables (Yes, you read that right: half).
2. Exercise is great for your heart, brain, and kidneys. How much? Well, studies in older individuals show that the intense, strenuous exercise is no more advantageous than gentle exercise like walking and swimming
3. Treatment of cholesterol with statin medications is now based more on other risk factors than your cholesterol level. Here are the risk factors: LDL Cholesterol 190 or higher; hypertension; diabetes; a strong family history of coronary artery disease; and having had a stroke or cholesterol blockages anywhere in your body previously. If you are on a statin, and you have none of these risk factors, please talk with your physician.
4. If you have never had a stroke or a heart attack, taking aspirin a day doesn’t help prevent one. We don’t know why, but study after study shows this.
5. Taking an aspirin a day carries a risk of major bleeding (think hospitalization) of 1-2% per year. It may not seem like much to you, but I see bleeds frequently. So if you have not been prescribed daily aspirin, avoid it.
6. The adult low dose 81 mg of aspirin works as well for thinning your blood as any other dose. Hopefully, it carries less risk for bleeding (but I have not seen any evidence for this claim).
7. Fish oil capsules do not lower the risk for heart disease or stroke. Eating fish does. And the more fish you eat, the lower the risk. Any fish counts.
8. Under and overtreatment of high blood pressure are big problems. You should be averaging 120-140 on the top number. (There are a few exceptions.) The bottom number should be below 90.
Dr. Richard Satriale, MD
Tel Hai Retirement Community, Medical Director