Were you “born to walk”?

Dr. James Beckerman talks to one of his 'Heart To Start' groups in Portland
Cardiologist Dr. James Beckerman leads one of his ‘Heart To Start’ groups in Portland

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

“Physicians, get out your prescription pads and prescribe this book to every one of your heart patients. This encouraging, common sense and easy-to-read book deserves to be in the hands of all freshly-diagnosed heart patients and those who love them.”

That’s the little blurb I wrote for Oregon cardiologist Dr. James Beckerman’s new book, Heart To Start.*  As explained in last week’s book excerpt published here, Dr. B believes that heart disease is essentially a sitting disease.  To rally against that, he embraces a profound belief that “exercise is medicine”  – and this is especially important for all of us heart patients. In fact, he believes that physical exercise is the least prescribed yet most effective heart treatment. Far too many of us, however, get little or no regular physical activity – particularly while recuperating from a cardiac event – and instead insist on doing something that just might be dangerous to our health: we sit.  

But Dr. Beckerman believes that what we most need to do is to move more. We were “born to walk”, he reminds us. And even if we weren’t born to walk, we sure weren’t born to be sitting around all day.   Continue reading “Were you “born to walk”?”

Size matters – but not in coronary artery blockages

by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters

It’s not about your cholesterol numbers, and it’s not even about big fat blockages clogging up your coronary arteries. Did you know that inflammation is likely the culprit in most heart attacks? As cardiologist Dr. John Mandrola neatly describes it:

“Heart disease is about inflammation.  The same mechanisms that cause the throat to swell from an infection, the skin to redden after an insect bite, and a scar to form after a cut are what cause heart problems.”

Studies continue to show demonstrable links between heart disease and other inflammatory conditions.
Continue reading “Size matters – but not in coronary artery blockages”

How expecting recovery can help heart attack survivors

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

Because I’m a ridiculously early riser most days, I often find myself in the kitchen listening to those pre-dawn overseas radio broadcasts from the BBC or Deutsche Welle or Radio Australia while making my morning coffee. The latter gripped my bean-grinding attention at about 4:45 one morning recently when host Natasha Mitchell was interviewing clinical psychologist Dr. Richard Bryant.

Their conversation aired on her award-winning program on mental health issues, All In The Mind. Their topic, psychological debriefing to help Australia’s traumatized flood victims, contained many unexpected  gems for those of us who have gone through other forms of traumatic events – like surviving a heart attack.

Continue reading “How expecting recovery can help heart attack survivors”

Getting help during a heart attack: ‘delayers’ vs ‘survivors’

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

If you thought you were having a heart attack, would part of you worry about being embarrassed if it turned out your symptoms weren’t that serious after all? Would you dread the attention of an ambulance coming to your home?  If so, you might be considered a “delayer”.

On the other hand, would you likely call 911 immediately because you believe that embarrassment passes quickly and without long-term damage, while a heart attack does not? If so, you’d be considered a “survivor”.

Check this chart to see which category you belong in – and then take whatever steps are required to move yourself immediately from delaying to surviving.   Continue reading “Getting help during a heart attack: ‘delayers’ vs ‘survivors’”

Do you know what causes heart disease?

by Carolyn Thomas

When I gently scolded Kentucky cardiologist Dr. John Mandrola recently over his cheeky criticism of diet soda (he’s a bike racer, what can I say?), we began a subsequent exchange of emails that led me to his blog.  There I found the simplest, clearest explanation of heart disease that I have yet discovered – particularly on the role that inflammation plays in causing our cardiac events. With the permission of this cardiac electrophysiologist (thanks, Dr. John), I’m reprinting his essay here, including his Primary Prevention Strategies, or “what regular people call healthy living”:   Continue reading “Do you know what causes heart disease?”