How to Tell if You’re Living a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle

heart healthyYou’d be surprised how many people think they are living a heart-healthy lifestyle when they really are not. Many people do not realize that their un-heart-healthy habits are slowly but surely resulting in an increased risk for heart disease and/or stroke. But don’t fret… it’s never too late to break bad habits and turn them into good ones. There are varying opinions on how long it takes a person to stop a bad habit and/or start a good one – but rest assured both can be accomplished with a little bit of effort.

Following are a few tips to help promote a heart-healthy lifestyle:

Exercise. According to the American Heart Association, every person should get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least five times per week, or 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least three days per week (or a combination of the two).

Stop Smoking. There is absolutely no disputing the fact that smoking is not healthy for a person’s heart. It increases the risk for coronary heart disease, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, and many other ailments.

Eat a Healthy Diet. Eating a healthy diet is one of the easiest ways to prevent the development of heart disease. A heart-healthy diet can be accomplished by anyone – regardless of your food budget or where you live.

Lose Weight. It doesn’t matter if you are five pounds overweight or if you should lose 50 pounds or more. All levels of weight loss can result in benefits to your heart and vascular system.

Turn off the TV. Turning off the television does not mean you’re not allowed to watch television at all! It simply means that instead of watching television for several hours in a row, periodically turn off the set and take a walk, do housework, or go somewhere that requires physical movement.

Reduce your level of stress. The American Heart Association states that even though stress itself might not be directly related to heart disease, “stress may affect behaviors and factors that are proven to increase heart disease risk: high blood pressure and  cholesterol levels, smoking, physical inactivity, and overeating.”

Take your medicine on schedule. If you are supposed to take prescribed medication to help with heart disease or any other medical ailment, make sure to take your medication on time and on schedule. If you have concerns about the medication you are taking, make sure to call your doctor immediately – but do not stop taking your medication without your doctor’s recommendation. Abruptly stopping some types of medication can lead to health-related complications.

Living a heart-healthy lifestyle is not difficult but it may require making some subtle changes to your daily routine. No matter if you have heart disease risk factors or not, a heart-healthy lifestyle results in your feeling healthier and more energetic – and it also promotes a positive outlook on life.

The post How to Tell if You’re Living a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle appeared first on Boone Heart Institute | Preventive Cardiology | Denver, Colorado.

Non-Invasive C-IMT-Test Helps Screen for Heart Disease in Otherwise Healthy People

CIMT-SCANCardiovascular disease can be a very sneaky disease.  Diet and exercise can help to dramatically reduce one’s risk, but every now and again it can still affect even the healthiest person.  This is why it is vital for even seemingly healthy individuals to stay on top of their cardiovascular health.  Thankfully, there is a simple, non-invasive screening to check for symptoms of heart disease.

The screening is called the Carotid Intima-media Thickness (C-IMT) test that is recommended by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association for people 45 and older, and it is offered right here at the Boone Heart Institute.  C-IMT is performed with a high-resolution B-mode ultrasound transducer.  A small amount of conducting jelly is applied to the skin on your neck, and then the transducer is held over the carotid arteries to capture the image.  This process measures the thickness of the medial and intimal layers of the artery walls and, in turn, their health. Though it may seem strange to screen the carotid artery as opposed to the heart itself, this artery actually provides a very accurate measure of overall arterial health, as the atherosclerotic burden is the same in the carotid as in any other coronary artery.

Checking the thickness of the arterial walls allows Dr. Boone to calculate the “arterial age” of your cardiovascular system.  If your arterial age matches your actual age or is younger, than you have a lower risk for heart disease.  If it is higher, however, then it gives us an idea of your risk level and informs us to take a more aggressive approach in controlling the risk factors associated with the disease.  With therapy, we can slow down and even achieve regression of your arterial age.

If you wish to participate in a C-IMT screening, or simply wish to learn more, contact the Boone Heart Institute to schedule your risk-free consultation today!

Short on Time? Put Down the weights and Go for a Jog to Get the Biggest Bang for Your Buck.

Aerobic-Exercise-RoutineIf you’re like most people, time is a commodity you don’t give up lightly.  This can often be a difficult thing to overcome for those looking to lose a few lb’s.  In a perfect world, we would all have time to commit to a full hour of training each day to reach our ideal physique.  Unfortunately, we typically have to pick and choose our workout routines to fit our busy schedules.  This begs the question then, as to what is the most effective form of short period exercise for losing weight?  A recent study out of North Carolina just might have the answer you are looking for.

The study followed 119 overweight or obese men and women between 18 – 70 years old over a period of eight months.  The subjects were divided into three groups: one engaged in a vigorous aerobic exercise protocol, the second in a resistance protocol and the third a combination of the two.  Each group exercised three days per week, with the aerobic group going for 45 minutes at 70 – 85% maximum heart rate, the resistance group doing 8 – 12 reps on eight resistance machines targeting all muscle groups, and the combination group doing all of the above.  At the end of the study, each participant was assessed for weight, waist circumference, body composition and cardio fitness.  These figures were then compared to the results from the baseline tests completed at the beginning of the study.

The researchers found that those participating in the aerobic and combination groups lost significantly more weight than those that only did resistance training.  In fact, some of the resistance participants actually gained weight due to the increase in muscle.  Researchers did find that the combination group was able to decrease their measurements and fat percentage, as well as increase their lean muscle, allowing for a larger decrease in body fat percentage.

In essence, if you have the time for it, try to combine aerobic and resistance-based exercise to see the best results.  If you’re crunched for time like most folks however, aerobic exercise is the answer for getting rid of those unwanted lbs in your limited free time, and stay away from resistance alone.  That is, unless you don’t mind bulking up instead of slimming down.  Now hit the gym and get that heart rate up!

High-Sugar/High-Salt Intake Bad for More Than Just Your Waistline.

dietsWe’ve all been told that diets high in sugar, salt and calories (also known as the “cafeteria diet”) are a quick way to put on weight, and should be avoided whenever possible.  A new study lends credence to this train of thought, indicating that it can also significantly increase one’s risk of metabolic syndrome and even stroke.

The researchers in the Canadian study gave sedentary rats unlimited access to healthy food pellets and water.  They were also offered the same access to a selection of “junk food” items, including cookies, cupcakes and sausage, as well as a sucrose solution that simulated soft drinks.  The rats in the study were at an age about the equivalent of 16 – 22 years old in humans at the time of the study.

Researchers found that, like many humans, the rats tended to prefer the junk food to the healthy options.  They also found that within two months of beginning the study, most of the rats had developed most of the symptoms associated with metabolic syndrome (high cholesterol/blood sugar/blood pressure and obesity).  This lead the researchers to believe that there will soon be an increasing number of strokes and heart disease/dementia patients in people in their 30’s and 40’s if current dieting trends remain unchecked.

So next time you reach for that cookie, try to remember that it may be doing more than just going to your hips.  Instead, treat yourself to some fresh fruit or other healthy snack.  You will thank yourself time and again when you start approaching that mid-life crisis.

Ladies, Aspirin is Good for your Heart, and a New Study Shows for your Brain Too

Doctors have long promoted the use of low-dose aspirin to those at risk of cardiovascular disease to help minimize that risk.  A new study out of Sweden has found that it may actually have benefits to maintaining mental health in elderly women at high risk of cardiovascular disease as well.

The study followed 681 women with a mean age of 75 in 2000.  A total of 95% of those women were at a high risk of cardiovascular disease, and only 19% were previously taking a low-dose aspirin.

The researchers conducted a cognition test known as a Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) with the women to develop a baseline, and then prescribed half of the group a low-dose aspirin regimen.  Tests were then completed after five years of half the group being on the aspirin regimen and the other half not, and the results were very encouraging.  They showed that the women on the aspirin regimen showed a very minimal decline in their MMSE score (average of -0.05) when compared to those that didn’t take the aspiring (average of -0.95).

The exact reason that aspirin has this effect on the brain is still uncertain, though they believe it to be linked to either increased blood flow to the brain, or an increased production of neuroprotective molecules known as docasanoids.

The researchers still have some fine-tuning to do with the study, but initial results are very encouraging for reducing one’s risk of the always-feared mental decline associated with age.  We look forward to seeing future results from the study, and encourage anyone that feels they are at risk of cardiovascular disease to consult their doctors before beginning a low-dose aspirin regimen.

Work Stress Strains the Heart

Nobody likes to be stressed out at work.  It can be simply exhausting.   And as if that wasn’t enough, a new report indicates that it can actually have a physical impact on your cardiovascular health as well. A recent meta-analysis combined the data from 13 similar studies of a combined 198,000 people to find that those who indicated stress in the workplace were at a nearly 25% increased risk of suffering from Coronary Heart Disease (CHD).

Factors such as quantity of work, having sufficient time to complete tasks, decision-making freedoms, and overall demand of the job were considered and evaluated against study-specific median scores.  The statistical associations remained consistent, even when results were adjusted to compensate for age, sex and socioeconomic status.  The researchers indicated that lowering stress levels, particularly those related to work, could have a dramatic affect on preventing a person’s risk of CHD.  They also indicated that nutrition, exercise and hereditary factors also play an obvious role in the risk of CHD, and that all factors need to be considered together to gain a better perspective on one’s predisposition to CHD.

If you have ever said something along the lines of “this job will be the death of me,” you may not be too far from the truth.  When your stress levels start to rise, it is important to take a moment to collect yourself and approach the situation with a calm, collected mindset.  This will help to keep those stress levels to a minimum.  There are plenty of other methods you can take to reduce stress levels, including meditation, time management techniques and more, so check them out!  They just might save your life!

Heart Health Starts Earlier Than You Think

At what age would you say is a good time to start being more proactive about your heart health?  According to a recent study out of Geneva, Switzerland, the average person feels that 32.2 years of age is the point to start taking action.  Unfortunately, they would all be wrong.

While it is important to be heart healthy at that age, the fact of the matter is that by the time a person is 32, their heart will have beaten roughly 1.3 billion times – about half of its life expectancy. While it is true that risk of cardiovascular disease does increase as you age, people of all ages are at risk of cardiovascular disease, from age 1 – 100 and beyond.

It is extremely important to start being heart-conscious from an early age, and that really starts with the parents.  Setting a good example for healthy diet and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle are vital to keeping children on the path to a healthy heart well into their golden years.

It is based on this principle of starting early with heart health that Dr. Boone founded the EveryHeart Foundation in order to ensure that the hearts of our young athletes beating long and strong into the future.  To learn more, visit

30 Minutes of Exercise Goes Further Than You Think

Do you have trouble trying to convince yourself to hit the gym for an hour at a time?  Now you may not have to!  A new study out of Denmark has shown that 30 minutes of vigorous exercise (enough to break a sweat) can actually help you to lose as much, if not more, body weight and fat.  That’s right, you can actually get the same results in half the time!

The study followed 60 overweight men that indicated they were motivated to make a lifestyle change.  Half of the group was instructed to follow a 30-minute exercise regimen, while the other was told to follow a 60-minute one.  Both groups were told to work hard enough to produce sweat.

The results of the study found that participants with the 30-minute regimen actually ended up burning more calories than they should have relative to the training program that was set for them.  On the other end, those with the 60-minute programs ended up burning less than they should have.

The researchers postulate that the results are most likely due to a few factors.  The first being that many see a 30-minute exercise routine as easier and more doable than a 60-minute one, and often have more energy to and desire to exert more energy after their routine, be it playing sports or the like.  Also, they believe that those who worked out for 60 minutes most likely ended up eating more, causing them to lose slightly less weight than anticipated.

So if you think you need to work out for an hour at a time to get results, but committing to an hour at the gym that is keeping you from getting in shape, you’re in luck!  Take that measly 30 minutes out of your day, and you can work your way to a healthier you in no time!

Why Doctors Should Share Their Notes with You.

Try to remember your last doctor’s visit.  How did it go?  You discussed your reason for being there (check up, illness, etc.), they provided recommendations and, if need be, provided proscriptions, and then the appointment was done.  Or so you thought.  Did you know that after you leave, your doctor is writing notes on how the visit went?  This information helps them to track stress levels, blood pressures, symptoms, prescriptions, etc. from visit to visit. Shouldn’t you get access to that information too?  A new study set out to see just what would come of sharing those notes with patients.

The study, published in the Journal Annals of Internal Medicine, held an experiment at three separate medical centers across the country, where 105 primary care physicians and more than 13,000 of their patients participated to help track the benefits and concerns of doctors sharing their notes with their patients.  During the course of one year, patients were provided with an electronic notification when they could view notes from their physician via a private online portal.  Of the 13,000+ patients participating, just over 5,000 accessed at least one doctor’s note and completed a survey.

Based on these results, researchers found that most of the patients who accessed their doctor’s notes were better about taking prescribed medications and were noted by their doctors as seeming more empowered in maintaining their health, and felt that their relationships with those patients grew significantly stronger.  Where as most patients tend to forget a lot of the information provided to them during their initial visit, or even why they were prescribed certain medications, allowing them access to the notes allowed them to not only better remember the details of that particular visit, but to keep tabs on their own health over the course of several visits.  It also empowers the patient with the choice of confidentiality.  They have the option to share their information with whomever they wish, or they can keep it private.  Giving them that choice also helped to provide them with more of a sense of control over their health information.

After the experiment had ended, an astounding 99% of eligible patients indicated that they wanted the open notes program to continue, though roughly 33% did mention certain concerns about privacy.  The results of the study are being presented to the likes of the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association and more to try and make this more of an accepted practice for healthcare providers across the country.

Dr. Boone has long supported the concept of sharing notes and other vital information directly with his patients.  He makes sure to write out detailed step-by-step plans for each and every executive patient, and helps them along the way where needed.  He is always open and willing to answer any questions the patients may have about past visits, as well as next steps for them to take following treatment.  Dr. Boone strongly believes that the more information his patients have about their health, the better prepared they will be to maintain and even improve their health and ultimately their quality of life.