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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

4 simple lifestyle changes that can save your life

There are risk factors that people can't control, such as their family history (genetics) and age. However, there are lifestyle changes that people can make that will significantly reduce their risk of developing heart disease.

In a new study recently published, researchers have shown that getting regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, maintaining a normal weight and especially not smoking, protects patients from coronary heart disease and the early build-up of coronary calcium (hardening of the arteries). The presence of coronary calcium has been shown to increase your risk of heart attacks, stroke and death. 

Therefore, although we cannot change who are parents were or make ourselves any younger, we can reduce our risk of developing heart disease by changing how we live, what we do and what we eat. 

Doc - What's that on you wrist?

For the past few months, patients have notice and asked me about the device I wear on my wrist.

I have been wearing the Nike FuelBand

This device which I wear on my wrist inspires me to get active by recording all of my acitivity and converting it into a new fitness currency - NikeFuel.  The more active I am, the more NikeFuel I am rewarded with per day. 

What is Nike fuel "Unlike calorie counts, which vary based on someone's gender and body type, NikeFuel is a normalized score that awards all participants equal scoring for the same activity regardless of their physical makeup."

Nike FuelBand users can decide at the beginning of the day what level of NikeFuel I want to reach that day. The Fuelband then displays how close I am  to achieving my goal via a series of 20 LEDs that gradually go from red to green as you approach your target. Specifically, the Nike FuelBand uses accelerometry to record data about your exercise, which it can then relay to you as time, steps, NikeFuel or calories.

I can track my progress on the fly via the LED read out on the band or sync it to my iPhone (wirelessly) or computer and see more detailed information 

I find the device to be a true lifestyle-changer rather than a tradition training watch. 

There are other new fitness tracking devices on the market, each with there own advantages and disadvantages. 

- UP is a wristband and app that tracks how you sleep, move and eat—then helps you use that information to feel your best.
- However, it does not have a visual screen and must be physically plugged into the iPhone

During the day, it tracks steps, distance, and calories burned. At night, it tracks your sleep cycle and wakes you silently in the morning. Just check out the lights to see how you stack up against your personal goal. It’s the motivation you need to get out and be more active.
- However, it does not have a visual clock (which I use frequently)

While these devices are not for everyone, I do find that the device really helps me to stay active. 

If you are wearing one now or get one in the future, let me know what you think.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Fitness tools that tap the power of your friends - CNN.com


I love using tech to help me stay motivated. Of the 7 tools mentioned in this article, I use RunKeeper and I wear a Nike Fuelband. I'm thinking about trying out Zombies, Run!

If you use technology to help keep you motivated - let us know which ones and how it is working for you.

Think your job is going to kill you, heart healthy living may be able to save you

Studies have shown that high stress jobs are bad for the heart. My patients routinely report to me that the stress of work is effecting not just their emotional but physical well being. 
New evidence now suggests that heart healthy living and avoiding known lifestyle risk factors: smoking, obesity, physical inactivity, and heavy drinking, can reduce the chance of symptomatic heart disease. 
Of the 102,128 healthy participants in the studies, 15,986 reported job strain. That subset was then sorted into these groups: healthy (no lifestyle risk factors), moderately unhealthy (one risk factor), and unhealthy (two to four risk factors).
The primary endpoint was first myocardial infarction or death from cardiovascular disease.
Adults who reported job strain and lived an unhealthy lifestyle were more than twice as likely to develop coronary artery disease in 10 years (HR 2.55, 95% CI 2.18 to 2.98) for a population attributable risk of 26.4%.
Take home message: While we may not be able to decrease our job related stress, heart healthy living can dramatically reduce the chance that our job will kill us. 

Women, Sleep and Heart Disease

Despite the mounting evidence showing the importance of sleep, many of us get too little sleep. 

A study out of San Francisco has now shown that this lack of sleep, particularly in women may contribute to developing significant coronary artery disease. 

The study found that poor sleep, particularly waking too early, appears to play a significant role in raising unhealthy levels of inflammation among women (not men) with coronary heart disease. 

These findings provide evidence that inflammation may serve as a key biological pathway through which poor sleep contributes to the progression of heart disease in women. This study also helps to shine a light on the potential gender differences that physiologically may exist between men and women. 

Please remember to get your sleep and practice healthy sleep habits:

  • maintaining a regular sleep-wake schedule
  • avoiding caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and other chemicals that interfere with sleep
  • making your bedroom a comfortable sleep environment
  • establishing a calming pre-sleep routine
  • going to sleep when you're truly tired
  • not watching the clock at night
  • using light to your advantage by exposing yourself to light during the day and limiting light exposure in the evening
  • not napping too close to your regular bedtime
  • eating and drinking enough—but not too much or too soon before bedtime
  • exercising regularly—but not too soon before bedtime