Effective Treatment for Heart Disease

By Dr. Edward Kowaleski, Primary Care Provider

Treatment for Coronary Disease

When I am asked what are the three things a patient can do to stay well I respond “Exercise, diet and follow my medical directions.” In fact, over the years this answer has become almost a religious cant. Unfortunately, too often it falls on deaf ears. The first two of exercise and diet seem to be the hardest pieces of advice to follow. The only conclusion I can reach for this is simple: people believe I can heal them with drugs alone. This is not true. Medicines are an imperative to facilitate treatment for disease. Drugs are not the only recommended long term course of medical action.

My practice as a primary care provider is probably no different from any other like practice. I see and treat a wide variety of medical ailments, many are of short duration in nature, like colds and flu and the general aches, pains and ouches people suffer in their daily lives. However, may of my patients suffer from long-term diseases, like diabetes and heart disease. And a large number of those patients suffer from both. For those patients I must spend a significant amount of time counseling as to what needs to be done to stay well.

Coronary Disease and Diet

The first item of discussion is almost always diet. There is no avoiding the horrific fact that many of these patients are just too heavy. My observant guess is that most of these patients are at least thirty pounds overweight and a large percentage are fifty or more pounds overweight. My next observation would be that most of these patients are looking for me to prescribe some magic bullet to help them get thin. Well, here it is: go on a heart healthy diet and keep to it.

Heart Healthy Diet

A heart healthy diet is not a fad diet and is not subject to misinterpretation. The basic principals of the diet are well known, practiced and understood. The following are all true of heart healthy diet:

  • The diet is rich in foods that supply high-density lipids (HDLs) or good fats. A diet rich in HDL foods greatly reduces the impact of the bad fats and mitigates the chance of artery blocks, the leading cause of heart attacks. HDLs also lower cholesterol levels in the blood.
  • The diet is low in low-density fats (LDLs) or bad fat. The LDL fat is the worst fat you can eat and is virtually the only cause of high cholesterol.
  • The diet is low in processed sugars and carbohydrates. Lower intakes of these items reduce insulin spikes.
  • The diet is low in sodium intake. Reduced salt (something under one teaspoon a day – this is approximately 2400 milligrams and is roughly ten times more than the body actually needs to keep the electrolyte system in balance) dramatically lowers blood pressure. High blood pressure is a real killer.
  • The diet stresses a well-balanced intake of food to ensure all the necessary nutrients are eaten.
  • The diet emphasizes a maximum intake of calories and no more to balance the activity to calorie ratio. What is desired is that fewer calories are taken in than the amount of physical activity requirements. This one goal ensures a gradual loss of weight.

I have a second silver bullet to ensure staying well: Exercise

Disease and Exercise

The simple truth of exercise is this: Some exercise is better than none. Almost everyone, save for the most seriously sick, can do some form of exercise.

Here are some examples:

  • If you are confined to a bed or wheel chair, simple stretching exercises are appropriate. If you can use elastic bands, use them. Lifting lightweight, even only one-pound weights is beneficial. For the lightest of exercises, repetition is what is important, so do the exercises often.
  • Don’t lie down if you can sit.
  • Don’t sit if you can stand.
  • Don’t ride if you can walk.
  • If you can run, run.
  • Do simple stretching exercises several times a day

Senior citizens should make it a point of walking one or two miles a day, every day.

Those that exercise as little as twenty minutes a day, but do it everyday, will see interesting results in short order.

The benefits of exercise go on forever and include:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Stronger heart
  • A sense of well being
  • A better nights sleep
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Depression reduction
  • Stress and Anxiety reduction

The fact of the matter is this: exercise is the best thing you can do for your long-term good health and general well being. Exercise is an animal thing and we are animals. Animals survive on their ability to move around. In this respect, we are no different from any other animal.

In the months to come I will write more about these subjects. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Stay well.

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