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Take Care of Your Heart Health

Take Control of Your Heart Health

Welcome back to our second Wellness Wednesday talk. I received such nice feedback from the first one that I will try a second one.

The American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1897-1971) is accredited with the Serenity Prayer, which many people are familiar with from the 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous program. It goes something like this:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”.

February is heart health month, and I challenge all of us to acquire wisdom and courage to make changes to our lives in order to take better care of our heart health, and to let go of the things, which are out of our control.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in all adults, surpassing deaths from all cancers combined. Yet, we often seem more worried about cancer deaths than deaths from heart disease. The main culprits in heart disease are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, diabetes, physical inactivity, unhealthy eating habits and stress; these are all factors, which we actually can do something about!

Starting today, let us take control of our heart health. We do not have to suffer the same illnesses as our family- we CAN change our destiny.

  1. If you smoke, quit those cigarettes NOW.
  2. Begin a daily exercise program aiming at 150 minutes of exercise a week. Join a gym or do your work out routines at home in front of your TV or computer using of of the many work out routines found online, like for instance , “21 day Fix” which I find fun.
  3. Drive past the fast food restaurants to avoid the deep fried foods and sugary drinks and begin to cook you own nutritious food. Current dietary information seems to point us toward eating a more plant based diet. Did you know that dairy, red meat, and pork leads to increased cancer and inflammatory conditions like arthritis? Let me reference a couple of great vegan cookbooks one can order online (vegans eat no animal products at all) and two documentaries which I think are a must to watch this month on Netflix.

The must watch documentaries are “What the Health” and  “ Forks over Knives”.  They had a profound impact on me, and I am sad to say that we were not taught this information in medical school or in residency.

Great Cook Books to help inspire you to try vegan recipes are “Forks over Knives”, which also has a very handy APP that I use a lot,  “ The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease cook book” by the Esselstyn family, “Oh She Glows Cookbook” and the “Sweet Potato Soul” cookbook for the southern palate.  We can REVERSE heart disease through our diet! Isn’t that a crazy thought! Somehow, we have come to believe that only pills prescribed by doctors can do it or stents and bypass surgery can help us, but we can truly do something for ourselves by completely changing our eating habits, exercising, and by leading less stressful lives.  The latter often means that we have to change our attitude and not let things get to us, that we have to make an effort to stay calm, cool and collected. Some folks pray to stay focused and calm, some meditate, some sing, some exercise, some read, some go for walks, some spend time with peaceful loving people, some garden. Whatever works for you, make an effort in 2019 to seek it out and give it a try for the benefit of your own heart health.


Dr. Washington