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

Monday, January 30, 2012

Super Goal Monday

With the big game on Sunday, and the big food that goes along with it, many of us (or maybe just me) are still  on our "Holiday" will-power hiatus and looking for an excuse to start serious food restriction.

Well, the gig is up and thanks to my awesome office staff, I have an excuse to get my BMI closer to where it should be. The women have initiated a Super Goal Monday Weight Loss Challenge.

After gorging on offensively hot wings, a plastic football full of pretzels and (hopefully) the sweet taste of a Giants victory, we will begin a 3 month competition to see who can best reverse the damage of the above. Weekly weigh-ins and a financial incentive will keep us honest and aqt the end of 90 days, we will all be better for it.

For privacy and safety reasons (mine in particular), I am not allowed to post results of any of the weigh-ins although I'd really like to. Unfortuantely, I'll just have to give vague, non-numerical updates. These types of weight loss challenges are wonderful ways to help you and your colleagues/friends/neighbors/family members to get healthier, using a team approach and exchanging ideas about what works and what doesnt. There are also several online options to facilitate a group weight loss challenge and I've provided a few below. Check it out if you feel so inspired. And fo course, GO GIANTS!!!

Ideas for a Weight Loss Challenge at LiveStrong


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Healthier School Lunches Are on the Menu

After 15 years, the school lunch ladies will be dishing over some healthier grub to our children, says the National School Lunch Program.

With an additional six cents per meal, the schools could hardly figure out where to spend first. Fortunately, most of the improvements come in the form of omissions, including smaller portions, calorie limits, less fats and zero trans fat. There are some increases too, such as those in "dark green vegetables", whole grains, and fruits.

Despite an attempt to discount tomato paste (and thus pizza) as a vegetable Congress was able to successfully reverse that and maintain its status as equal to one veggie serving.

"It was a bit unfortunate that some groups had powerful friends in Congress and basically tried to sort of short-change [kids] and create some confusion with these standards," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

"Our response was to set up minimum requirements. You have to have a minimum level of dark green vegetables, you've got to have a minimum level of red or orange or yellow vegetables."

And coming on the heels of these changes will be laws affecting school vending machines.

Here are the quick bullet points:

  • Offer a minimum of 8 to 10 ounces of whole grains. No more than two desserts a week may be used to meet this minimum
  • Offer at least a half cup per week of dark green vegetables
  • Offer at least 3/4 cup red/orange vegetables for grades K-8, and at least 1 1/4 cups in grades 9-12
  • Offer at least a half cup of beans or peas
  • Offer at least a half cup of starchy vegetables. There is no limit on starchy vegetables
  • Offer at least a half cup of fruit in grades K-8 and at least 1 cup of fruit in grades 9-12
  • Offer at least a half cup (grades K-8) or 3/4 cup (grades 9-12) of "other vegetables," which may be met with any of the above vegetables except for starchy vegetables
  • Allow tofu as a meat alternative
  • Get federal reimbursement only if they offer at least a half cup of a fruit or vegetable
  • Contain no fewer than 550 calories for grades K-5, 600 calories for grades 6-8, and 750 calories for grades 9-12
  • Contain no more than 650 calories for grades K-5, 700 calories for grades 6-8, and 850 calories for grades 9-12
  • Obtain less than 10% of total calories from saturated fat
  • Have zero trans fat
  • Limit salt according to grade level
  • Offer at least a cup of low-fat or skim milk
Read the whole article on WebMD 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Future Is Here

When I asked my patient yesterday of he had been recording his blood pressures he cooly whipped out his Droid and showed me his recorded and graphed BP - which had a very reassuring negative slope to it. He used The HeartLite app for the Droid and all of you with SmartPhones can do the same.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Truth About Shoveling Snow

With the snowiest weeks ahead, we thought it would be good to uncover the truth about shoveling snow. Slips and falls, not cardiac catastrophes, are the most commonly seen winter-related injuries - but heart problems account for almost every recorded death in reported studies.

It is quite possible that you have heard about the risks of shoveling snow on the news, or possibly from your doctor, and most likely from your spouse. However, it is very unlikely that anyonw has shown you the proof that it can be deleterious to your cardiac health.

 "It's a dangerous activity. People who are middle aged or older with a history of heart problems simply should not shovel snow," said Barry Franklin, director of Cardiac Rehabilitation and Exercise Laboratories at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich.

But why? In an ABC News report, Franklin lays it out fairly well explaining that many people may not realize that a shovel full of wet snow can weigh as much as 15 to 16 pounds. So he said that if someone is shoveling snow at a rate of 12 shovelfuls per minute, they will have moved nearly a ton of snow if shoveling their driveway in just 10 minutes.

"So the physical demands are really, really substantial," said Franklin. When you couple that with the cold air that they are breathing, which causes the coronary arteries to constrict, in many respects you've got a perfect storm for heart trouble," said Franklin.

"Being out in the cold, some of the warning signs may be camouflaged," he added.

Cold weather and hard work can mask those symptoms, delaying people's responses and sometimes leading them into more trouble.

"We really encourage people beyond the age of 50 to try to hire a neighborhood kid to do it," he added.

Not everyone is at risk for a heart attack while shoveling, of course and people in cold climates often have "conditioning," according to Dr. Randal Thomas, director of the Mayo Cardiovascular Health Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Studies published in the Lancet and the American Journal of Cardiology show that the incidence of heart failure goes up in the week after a blizzard. The Lancet study, based on death certificates in eastern Massachusetts after six blizzards from 1974-78, demonstrated that coronary artery disease-related deaths rose by 22 percent during the blizzard week and stayed elevated for the subsequent eight days, suggesting that the effect was related to storm-related activities, like shoveling, rather than the storm itself.

Similarly, the AJC article, based on medical examiner records from three Michigan counties, found that there were more exertion-related sudden cardiac deaths in the weeks during and after blizzards, and that 36 of the 43 total exertion-related deaths occurred during or shortly after snow removal.

Here are some tips from Brigham and Women's Hospital cardiologist, Daniel Forman M.D.,director of Exercise Testing Laboratory and Cardiac Rehabilitation.

Certain individuals should consult their doctor before shoveling snow:
  • People who have previously had a heart attack or other cardiovascular disease.
  • People with a history of chest pain or angina.
  • People with medical histories of high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol levels.
  • People who smoke or who have other cardiovascular risk factors.
  • People who do not exercise regularly.

For those who wish to shovel snow, follow these general tips to help stay healthy:
  • Dress warmly and be sure to protect extremities such as your nose, ears, hands and feet. This is important because cold weather can reduce circulation, aggravating heart disease.
  • Stretch your arm and leg muscles as you would before any exercise; this minimizes musculoskeletal injury and strain.
  • Also warm up your cardiovascular system with a light activity such as marching in place or walking before shoveling. Warming up is an important means of modifying cardiovascular strain.
  • Don’t eat a heavy meal or drink alcohol prior to shoveling (this is not a good way to work off a big meal!). Avoid stimulants such as caffeine or nicotine, which increase heart rate and cause blood vessels to constrict.
  • Use a shovel with a small blade. It is safer for your heart as well as your back and joints to lift smaller and more frequent amounts of snow than to haul a few huge shovelfuls. Likewise, it is important to have a shovel that is suited for your height.
  • Pace yourself. Start out shoveling slowly, and don’t try to clear the entire area at once.
  • Take frequent breaks to give your heart a rest. Use the time off to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. Also make sure you are eating normally and taking your routine medications. Push the snow rather than lifting and throwing it.
  • If you must lift, do it properly. Spread your hands along the handle for more leverage, stand with your feet hip-width apart, and bend at the knees (not at the back).
  • Do not twist or throw snow over your shoulder. Scoop in a forward motion and step in the direction you throw the snow to avoid lower back pain the day after shoveling.
  • Know the warning signs of a heart attack. Stop immediately and seek emergency medical help if you experience heart attack symptoms such as chest pain, shoulder, neck or arm pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting, sweating or nausea.