“Is my heart healthy?” he asked.
After years of frustration, he has decided to tackle his high cholesterol and weight. He came to me as his family doctor to ask for specific advice.
“I’m glad you’re here. I’d much rather talk to you now, than in the hospital in 5 years.”
I could have spoken for hours, but my advice boiled down to this:
- Eat right
- Don’t smoke
- If you are overweight, lose weight
- Take medicine when needed
If these things were easy to do, I would be out of a job. Most of us can talk the talk, but the right choice is hard to make when we really want those Buffalo wings dipped in ranch dressing at the Super Bowl party.
My job as a doctor is to help him meet these goals.
- Eat right: Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, poultry, and nuts. Avoid salt. Minimize fat. Fad diets won’t get you there any better than traditional plans like the DASH diet.
- Exercise: Aerobic exercise like walking, running, biking, and swimming is still one of the best ways to lower your risk of a heart attack. You should exercise for at least 30 minutes 5 days a week.
- Don’t smoke: Stopping smoking will cut your risk of a heart attack in half. I have met few smokers who think smoking is good for them, but quitting is very difficult. Your doctor can help.
- If you are overweight, lose weight: Eating right and exercising will help you lose weight. Work with your doctor to find the approach which works for you.
- Take right medicine when you need it: Medicines cannot replace eating right and exercising, but they can help control your blood pressure and diabetes and improve your cholesterol if bad genes are the cause.
Invest in a healthy future.
Make an appointment with your doctor to talk about your heart health.