Call for an appointment: (973) 586-3400
Cardiology Consultants of North Morris
356 US Highway 46
Mountain Lakes, NJ 07046
Tel: (973) 586-3400 * Fax: (973) 586-1916

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Just 30 Minutes Every Day - And Your Government Can Help!

Its true! Believe it or not, the government has world class scientists studying fitness and health every day. And they make their research and recommendations available to the public for free, as long as you have a computer. The pure volume of healthy articles on the CDC, NIH, and other federally sponsored institutions almost makes me break out in a sweat.
Visit the Centers for Disease Control web page for physical activity recommendations:
They will tell you how much you need to do, good ideas on how to do it and even video instructions on options for different people. Here's one of my favorite snippets:
Aerobic activity – what counts?
Aerobic activity or "cardio" gets you breathing harder and your heart beating faster. From pushing a lawn mower, to taking a dance class, to biking to the store – all types of activities count. As long as you're doing them at a moderate or vigorous intensity for at least 10 minutes at a time.
Intensity is how hard your body is working during aerobic activity.
How do you know if you're doing light, moderate, or vigorous intensity aerobic activities?
For most people, light daily activities such as shopping, cooking, or doing the laundry doesn't count toward the guidelines. Why? Your body isn't working hard enough to get your heart rate up.
Moderate-intensity aerobic activity means you're working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat. One way to tell is that you'll be able to talk, but not sing the words to your favorite song. Here are some examples of activities that require moderate effort:
  • Walking fast
  • Doing water aerobics
  • Riding a bike on level ground or with few hills
  • Playing doubles tennis
  • Pushing a lawn mower
There is so much more there for the learning. Exercise is as, if not more, important than proper nutrition and compliance with your physicians' recommendations. Weight loss, improved glucose tolerance, mental well-being and improved physical appearance are just some of the benefits you can achieve with 30 MINUTES EACH DAY. That's it! Just 30.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Red and Blue Berries Good for your Blood Pressure?

A recently published study has suggested that fruits and vegetables that are rich in anthocyanins--such as blueberries, strawberries, and blood oranges--may help prevent the development of high blood pressure, new research suggests.

It seems like every week we hear about a new food that is good, or bad, for your health and even the same foods have sometimes been linked with both good and bad data. What is most important is to see HOW the scientists performed the study and what their actual conclusions were. In other words, you must take these news snippets with a grain of salt (pun totally intended).

The media is very fond of stories like this because they are widely applicable to the general public and everyone can relate to eating berries, etc. However, just because a newspaper or Yahoo! publishes a study, it does not mean that it was well done or even clinically relevant. Sometimes, it's just interesting.

In this most recent food-for-therapy study, the subjects, who did not have high blood pressure at baseline, were asked to complete health questionnaires every two years, and their dietary intake was assessed every four years through a food frequency questionnaire. But this does not account for so many factors that also may have contributed to their blood pressure or health changes, e.g. drinking, smoking, social factors, other illnesses etc. In scientific lingo, these are known as confounding variables, ie factors that may impact the results of a study that cannot be controlled. There are ways, in a questionnaire-based study to try and make up for these variables but inevitably the study becomes less accurate because of it.

The most accurate studies are those that analyze 2 groups of patients, one which uses the treatment and one that does not - and neither group, nor the scientists are aware who is getting what. This is known as a randomized, double-blinded, control trial.

This is not to say that the results culled from thousands of questionnaires and analyzed by very smart people should be completely discounted but what we do with the results and how we interpret them and integrate them into recommendations for patients is very important. Here's what the author of the trial, Dr. Aedin Cassidy, stated - which often gets buried under a bold, sexy headline:

"Our findings are exciting and suggest that an achievable dietary intake of anthocyanins may contribute to the prevention of hypertension."

OK. That's a fair statement. Weekly intake of these blueberries, strawberries and foods high in anthocyanins MAY prevent development of high blood pressure.

"In terms of guidance to patients, I think this can help us give a little bit more targeted advice. Rather than just telling them to eat more fruit and vegetables--which they are tired of hearing--we can try to refine messages about which dietary components are beneficial in terms of cardioprotective effects," she says.

She cautions, however, that these findings come from an observational study and so will require confirmation in interventional trials.

Dr. Cassidy concludes by nothing that the next stage of the research will be to conduct randomized controlled trials with different dietary sources of anthocyanins to define the optimal dose and sources for hypertension prevention, enabling the development of targeted public-health recommendations on how to reduce blood pressure.

So are the red and blue berries good for high blood pressure? The take home message is that they might be, but more refined studies would need to be performed to say this with any certainty.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Feel Good Moment of the Week

We deal with such weighty topics on this blog (no pun intended) that I felt it was time for some pure entertainment. After all, laughter and a positive outlook has often been associated in the medical literature with decreased rates of heart disease and hospitalizations. So here's our Feel Good Moment of the Week:

Monday, January 3, 2011

Quitting Smoking Great for Your Heart - And Wallet

According to a recent study by the University of Wisconsin's Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention, the cost of smoking cessation pales in comparison to the annual impact of cigarettes on your bank account. Oh yeah, and did we mention that smoking is horrible for you and causes lung cancer, coronary artery disease, impotence and peripheral artery disease?

The average cost of a pack of smokes is $5.51, which amounts to about $2,000 per year if you're anywhere close to a pack per day. If you're  living in one of the many places that has taxed cigarettes, then you are paying almost double that. A brief search on shows you that this is more than enough to take your spouse/friend/co-quitter with you on a Caribbean cruise on any major cruiseline. Hmmm, smell like smoke, increase my chance of multiple diseases or take a Caribbean cruise and improve my overall health substantially? It's a tough one.

Free Quitting Resources:
  • Call the toll-free number (800) QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669)
  •, a Department of Health and Human Services website.
More resources and the full body of the news article can be found by clicking here.