There are more than 100 million televisions, 250 million automobiles, and 300 million cell phones across America, but are these modern conveniences killing us? Studies consistently show that a sedentary lifestyle — sitting at office desks, sitting on couches at home, driving to destinations instead of walking — is a contributing factor to heart disease, obesity, and stroke. Preventative medicine that is geared toward lowering patients’ risk of heart disease typically includes both diet and exercise components.
Heart disease, of course, has always existed: recent studies show that several ancient rulers died from a — perhaps genetic — hardening of the arteries. However, the modern diet and lifestyle may contribute more to obesity and diabetes than we realize. The American diet contains a high rate of processed foods and concentrated sugars, and rates of diabetes in children continue to climb. Finding a doctor who can help focus patients on healthy lifestyles and low-fat diets can frequently make a difference in long-term health issues.
In the last three decades, the average American adult weight has climbed more than 15 pounds. We do not walk as much our ancestors, we do not perform outdoor activities as frequently as we intend, and we may not realize how high our diets are in fats, sugars, and chemicals. Questions to ask a cardiologist should include: how can I modify my diet to become more heart-healthy? Is there a way to incorporate exercise into my life in a gradual way so that I can develop stamina?
Finding a doctor to discuss concerns about heart conditions or obesity should be a priority for the 80 million or more Americans with heart disease. More than one-third of all adults are obese in this country, and the importance of routine checkups — and outpatient services — continues to grow. After weight-loss surgery, patients’ chances of dying from heart disease is cut in half, and finding a doctor who can help in finding a medical specialist could add years or even decades to the life of a person who is obese.
Cutting out fried food is typically recommended for heart patients who struggle with obesity, and it is a great first step on the path to better health. Eliminating fast food, sugary cereals, and flavored soda can also help with weight loss. A typical can of soda has about nine tablespoons of sugar and almost 200 calories, and medical studies have revealed a link between sugar intake and certain types of diabetes.
While most weight loss begins with gradual changes in diet, there is still the need to exercise. Starting with walks of about 10 minutes a few times per week and gradually working up to longer walks is often an effective strategy. As patients’ strength increases, they may want to begin gentle yoga classes or light stretching at least once a week. Yoga instructors understand that every participant is at a different point in their ability to stretch, bend, and turn and can work with beginners to develop proper posture and endurance.
Finding a doctor who understands that patients wish to become more healthy and to avoid surgery is a simple process, but developing the willpower and the “habit” of being healthy could take weeks, or even months. Knowing that your risk of heart disease is lowered could make it worthwhile: millions of Americans are thinking about making the switch to a more healthy, active lifestyle.