Exercise: The magic medicine

30 minutes per day is the single best thing you can do for your health

woman and exercise ball

Whatever exercise you choose, 30 minutes a day is the single best thing you can do for your health.

Michele Derheim, director of clinical operations at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center and a registered nurse, is a keen supporter of exercise.

“Whether it’s a simple walk or an intense workout, the reduction in disease risks as a result of exercise is phenomenal,” Derheim says. “Whether you’re at your ideal weight, or 20 pounds overweight, participating in some form of exercise has health benefits in the prevention of heart disease, diabetes and joint problems.”

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Good news about exercise for inactive people

Greater improvement possible for those just starting out

green dumbbells

If you’re inactive, starting and following an exercise program can bring about more significant health benefits than for someone who’s already fit.

If you tend to be inactive, but are thinking about getting fit, you may be interested to know that starting and consistently following an exercise program can bring about more significant health benefits than those achieved by someone who’s fit (it becomes more difficult to improve when already fit).

According to Theresa Gracik, director of the University of Michigan Preventive Cardiology Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, “The more de-conditioned you are, the more you can improve your health through exercise.” And, she says, older individuals (65+) who become fit make big strides toward improving their health and lifespan.

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Making sense of statins

Patients who would benefit are worried about side effects

white pill and vial

Patients who could benefit from statins are often concerned about side effects, but usually a change in medication or dosage can solve the problem.

A person cannot “feel” their bad (LDL) cholesterol, and so it’s one of the few things where following the numbers (from a blood test) matters as much as how a person feels.

There has been much written about a class of drugs called “statins” (often prescribed to help lower LDL, or bad cholesterol). Patients who would benefit from taking statins are often worried about side effects, such as muscle aches, dementia or liver injury. Many people walk into a doctor’s office with a fixed idea in mind that, no matter what, they won’t take a statin.

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Can alcohol cause heart damage?

Drinking in moderation OK for most people

cocktailDrinking alcohol in moderation, along with an overall healthy lifestyle, is acceptable for most individuals, says Dr. Michael Shea, who specializes in internal medicine and cardiovascular disease at the University of Michigan. “Moderation” is defined by the American Heart Association as an average of one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.

According to the AHA, a drink is:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 4 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits
  • 1 ounce of 100-proof spirits

What are the dangers of too much alcohol?

However, Dr. Shea warns, non-drinkers should not start drinking based on this information. “Too much alcohol can cause direct damage to heart cells as well as nutritional and vitamin deficiencies.” So the answer to the question “Can alcohol cause heart damage?” is yes, if you drink too much of it. In addition, drinking alcohol can lead to alcoholism, high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, breast cancer, suicide and accidents, so moderation is critical.

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High blood pressure: How you can reduce your risk

Today is World Health Day

blood-pressure-cuff

One in three adults worldwide has high blood pressure

One in three adults worldwide has high blood pressure, according to the World Health Organization. Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, not to mention kidney disease, vision loss, headache and heart failure. The risk of developing these complications is higher in the presence of other cardiovascular risk factors such as diabetes.

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Atrial fibrillation – what you need to know

Causes, symptoms and treatments of afib vary

red-heart-stethoscopeAtrial fibrillation (a-tree-uhl fih-bruh-lay-shun), or “afib” (ay-fib), is an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia) that starts in the upper parts (atria) of the heart. A common type of arrhythmia in those over the age of 60, “atrial fibrillation is being diagnosed with increasing prevalence,” says Michele Derheim, director of clinical operations at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center and a registered nurse. “The quicker you’re treated for an afib condition, the better your chances are for good cardiovascular health.”

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