Finding the Right Cardiologist for You

06/28/2010

            One of the most important parts of your journey to a healthier heart is deciding who will be your regular heart doctor. Heart doctors (cardiologists) can vary greatly. Even though most adhere to the standard of care, their interpretations can lead to a wide range of treatment styles. Some may be more conservative by suggesting very minimal medicines and follow-up. Others tend to be more aggressive in their treatment of heart disease by recommending more medicines and frequent follow-up. Both conservative and aggressive styles are perfectly fine but you need to find a cardiologist with the style you prefer. It should ideally be someone you trust undoubtedly. When it comes to your heart care, you do not have time to second-guess every move your doctor makes!

            If you prefer a cardiologist who is proactive when it comes to national guidelines and standard of care, I would recommend you search several websites. First, go to http://www.ncqa.org which is the website for The National Committee for Quality Assurance. NCQA is a not-for-profit organization that promotes quality care for patients. You can search their physician database to obtain a list of doctors who have passed the Heart/Stroke Recognition Program requirements. The list contains both primary care physicians and cardiologists. 

If you cannot find a cardiologist in the NCQA list for your area, then look up cardiologists through a search engine on the internet (Google, MSN, Yahoo, etc). You will have to type in key words like “cardiologist” and the name of your city. You can also use your local phone directory or ask a friend.

            Once you have a list of possible cardiologists for your area, I recommend you check out their credentials. By internet, you can view all types of information about any licensed provider through your state’s medical board website. To find your specific medical board website you can visit the American Medical Association’s webpage (link http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/education-careers/becoming-physician/medical-licensure/state-medical-boards.shtml) and click on your state in their list. Physicians who have passed the cardiology board exam will generally have this listed on the Medical Board website under Specialty Board Certifications. The Medical Board website can also tell you if the doctor has had any lawsuits settled against them. If you prefer not to use the internet, you can call the American Board of Medical Specialties (1-866-ASK-ABMS) with questions about a doctor’s certification.

After checking out their credentials, the next step would be to call the cardiologist’s office for an appointment. You will have to ask if they accept your insurance and if they are taking new patients. Many offices have more than one doctor in their group. If you really want to find the perfect match, consider asking a nurse, physician assistant or nurse practitioner about the doctors. You might say to them, “I’m looking for a doctor who will see me often and treat my heart disease aggressively.” Or you could say, “I’d like to see a doctor who is personable and open to alternative treatments.” Chances are they can guide you to the right person! 

Submitted by: Sharon Masinelli, PA-C

Author of What To Do When You Have Heart Disease

www.TheHeartDiseaseGuide.com

http://keepyourhearthealthy.wordpress.com


Tai Chi May Improve Your Overall Health

06/25/2010

 

Have you ever tried Tai Chi? If not it may be worth looking into…

The picture above certainly makes Tai Chi look enticing and relaxing.

Tai Chi originated in China and is often referred to as “meditation in motion.”  Tai Chi involves low-impact, slow motion mind-body exercises.  Movements are never forced, usually circular, not stressful on joints making it a great exercise for anyone of any age.

A growing body of research is now demonstrating multiple health benefits when Tai Chi is added to more traditional medical treatments.  Many of these studies were small but provide some interesting preliminary results.

Tai Chi has been suggested to:

  • Decrease arthritis pain
  • Improve quality of life and functional capacity in women with breast cancer or suffering side effects from breast cancer
  • Lower blood pressure, improve triglyceride and cholesterol levels, improve exercise capacity (Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 9/2008)
  • Improve walking distance and quality of life in heart failure patients
  • Lower blood pressure (Preventive Cardiology 9/2008)
  • Improve balance and gait in post stroke patients and people with Parkinson’s disease
  • Improve sleep quality and duration (Sleep 7/2008)
  • Lowers stress levels

You may also find tai chi appealing because it’s inexpensive, requires no special equipment and can be done indoors or out, either alone or in a group.

Although tai chi is generally safe, consider talking with your doctor before starting a new program.

If you are looking for more info about heart health please visit www.heart-strong.com or check out our Facebook site at http://www.facebook.com/reqs.php#!/profile.php?id=1443402011


Depression May Cause Increased Belly Fat

06/22/2010

A recent study in the June issue of the American Journal of Public Health evaluated a possible link between depression and extra inches around the waist.  Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham examined data from the CARDIA study, a 20 year longitudinal study with over 5,100 men and women.

They discovered that over a 15 year period everyone had put on some weight, but the depressed people gained weight faster. People reporting high levels of depression gained weight fast. The interesting finding is that being overweight initially did not lead to changes in level of depression.  The stress hormone cortisol plays a role in both depression and abdominal obesity, so increased levels of this hormone may be the reason why the depressed people gained the belly fat faster.

This study shows the importance of recognizing and treating depression not only for its psychological consequences, but also for physical reasons.  In order to control obesity and obesity related diseases, it is important to also make sure depression is appropriately recognized treated.

 Depression is a modifiable risk factor – prompt treatment can prevent permanent health problems. To find out more information about risk factors you can control to prevent heart disease, stroke and diabetes visit www.heart-strong.com


Are Height and Heart Disease Risk Related?

06/19/2010

An analysis of 52 studies and over 3 million participants by French researchers revealed short adults were 1 ½ times more likely to develop and ultimately die from heart disease than were tall adults.  This held true for both men and women and across all ethnic groups.  Men under 5 feet 4 inches and women under 5 feet were considered short and men over 5 feet 8 inches and women over 5 feet 4 inches were considered tall.

 At this point, there isn’t an explanation as to why this is true. A couple of theories include shorter people have smaller coronary arteries which may become blocked earlier in life or the shorter stature may be due to poor nutrition causing decreased growth earlier in life.

 Remember though, height may only be one uncontrollable risk factor for heart disease.  There are many risk factors that can be controlled such as blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, smoking, etc.  So do not concentrate on the things you cannot change, but get out there and work on the risk factors you can improve upon! For ways to help prevent heart disease and learn your modifiable risk factors visit www.heart-strong.com


COOKING LIGHT LAUNCHES NATIONWIDE SEARCH FOR THE CHEF WITH THE HEALTHIEST COOKING APPROACH

06/16/2010

Contest Seeks to Find the Healthiest and Most Innovative
Self-Taught or Professionally-Trained Chef 

Cooking Light launches a nationwide search to find the chef with the healthiest and most innovative cooking approach. The contest, searching for a self-taught or professionally-trained chef, launches today at www.CookingLight.com/castingcall. It runs through August 14, 2010.

Entrants must submit a three-minute prep-to-plate video of a healthy, original recipe on which they will be judged. Four finalists will be chosen from the entries to compete in a live cook-off event at The Taste of Atlanta, a two-day outdoor food festival in Atlanta, GA, on October 23 and 24, 2010. The Cooking Light judges will select the winner, who will be named the “Healthy Chef of the Year.” The winner will receive a $10,000 prize package including a kitchen makeover, a year’s worth of free groceries, and the opportunity to become a contributor to Cooking Light magazine and CookingLight.com in 2011.

Any and all skill levels are welcome to enter, from home cooks to culinary school graduates. Entrants must be legal residents of the United States and 21 years or older at the time of entry.  Anyone who is paid to cook for a living is not eligible to enter.

What are you waiting for? Let’s get cooking…


Too Many Stroke Patients are Missing an Important Medication

06/14/2010

The May 27th online issue of Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association reported that more than 16% of stroke patients are being discharged without a potentially life-saving medication.  These medications are called statins and they are generally used to reduce levels of the artery clogging cholesterol, LDL.  Common names for the statins are Lipitor, Zocor, and Crestor.

Dr. Bruce Ovbiagle, associate professor of neurology and director at the UCLA Stroke Prevention Program, UCLA Stroke Center and Department of Neurology stated that about one in ten stroke patients experience a second stroke within a week.  If statin therapy is started immediately at the hospital, a second stroke could possibly be prevented.

The good news is that there has been an increase in the number of patients being given prescriptions for the statin medicines between 2005 and 2007.  There has been an increase from 76% to nearly 85% of patients receiving statins.

There did seem to be a disparity in the type of patient and geographic location of the patient receiving the statin prescriptions.  Women had a 13% lower rate of receiving the medication than men and hospitals in the South were 34% less likely to discharge a patient on a statin than hospitals in the West.

If you or someone you know has suffered a stroke, check your medication list and be sure that a statin (Lipitor, Zocor, Crestor, or one of the others) is on the list.  If not, discuss it with your healthcare provider!  There are certain medical conditions that would prevent a person from taking a statin medication.

 For more valuable health information visit us at www.heart-strong.com.


Healthy Teeth Can Mean a Healthy Heart

06/11/2010

 

A recent study published in the British Medical Journal was conducted on almost 12,000 adults in Scotland and found that people with poor oral hygiene had a 70% higher risk of developing heart disease as compared to those who had healthy gums and brushed twice daily.

Gum disease causes and increase in inflammation within the body which can lead to an increased risk of developing heart disease.  Smokers have a 135% increased risk of heart disease as compared with the 70% increased risk with gum disease.  Although the amount of people having serious heart problems during the study was low, 555 out of 11,869 people, the effect of brushing your teeth regularly was significant.  So while other risk factors like smoking and high cholesterol are more serious, gum disease can indicate an added risk.

Blood tests drawn on people with poor dental hygiene exhibited elevations in two markers of inflammation, c-reactive protein and fibrinogen.

Once again, a very simple lifestyle change can dramatically decrease the chance of developing heart disease. So, make sure you are brushing twice daily, flossing daily, and visiting your dentist twice a year!!

 Visit www.heart-strong.com for valuable information about keeping your heart healthy!