Interventional Cardiologist, Leachman Cardiology Associates, an affiliate of Texas Heart Institute
Associate Chief of Cardiology, St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital
Medical Dir., Cardiac Catheriz. Lab
Assoc. Professor of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine & The Univ. of Texas Health Science Ctr., Houston
Doctor of Medicine, with honors, Univ. of Texas Health Science Center, Dallas
Board Certified, Internal Medicine & Cardiology
Co-author, , 2006
Wife, Marcy; 3 children
Sr. Pastor, Second Baptist Church, Houston, TX (41,000 members)
Author of several books
Host of weekly radio and TV program, The Winning Walk
BALANCING DIET AND EXERCISE
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a generic term inclusive of a number of maladies affecting the heart and coronary arteries, such as stroke, heart attack and atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the arteries). The American Heart Association reports that CVD claims the lives of more Americans than any other diseases including cancer, diabetes, etc. There are notable differences between men and women when it comes to CVD. Signs and symptoms are more specific in men such as chest pain, pain down left arm, and weakness, leading to quicker intervention. Symptoms in women, such as pain in chest, back or neck, shortness of breath, flulike symptoms, weakness and anxiety, can easily be overlooked.
Dr. Leachman says when we eat, our body turns food into energy and burns it through our daily activity. When we put more fuel into our system than we can immediately use, it is turned into fat. “We are experiencing a medical crisis that is literally killing us,” says Dr. Leachman. A healthy diet combined with regular exercise and no smoking can eliminate 80 percent of heart disease and 70 percent of some cancers. The Total Heart Health recommendation for both men and women is 30 minutes six days per week. Walking is a good example. At 100 calories a mile, you will burn 200 calories a day, 1,200 calories a week, and 62,400 calories a year. Since one pound of fat equals 3,500 calories, you could lose 18 pounds a year just from eating right and walking 2 miles a day!
The Total Heart Health plan includes foods from all food groups and represents a balanced, reasonable approach to maintaining maximum health and a weight you can live with. Dr. Leachman says that trying to keep up with diet trends could be harmful to your health. “Generally we agree with any diet that recommends reducing or eliminating simple sugars from the diet,” says Dr. Leachman. “However, we encourage consumption of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, which contain valuable dietary components such as fiber, vitamins and minerals.”
Dr. Leachman recommends one gram of protein, including more fish and plant protein sources, per kilgram of ideal body weight. (Kilogram weight is weight in pounds divided by 2.2.) Also, decrease trans fats and increase consumption of polyunsaturated fats which are present in fish and vegetable oils (not tropical oils). He recommends 38 grams per day of fiber for men and 25 for women to slow the digestive process and decrease the absorption of glucose in the bloodstream (lowering glycemic index). Individuals with high blood pressure should consume no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day and should meet the potassium recommendation of 4,700 milligrams per day. Before embarking on any new diet plan, Dr. Leachman says to talk to your doctor first.
SUCCEEDING AT WEIGHT CONTROL
A 10-year study called the National Weight Control Registry provides encouragement and hope for achieving weight loss goals. More than 4,000 people participated in the study and found there was no dominant diet, motive or exercise plan for successful weight loss. Some common factors for those who succeeded and maintained their weight goals: 1,300 – 1,500 calories consumed per day; all ate breakfast regularly; 75% weighed themselves regularly (daily or weekly); and all participated in extensive physical activity.
HIS CLOSE CALL
Seventeen years ago, Dr. Ed Young was rushed to the emergency room after experiencing chest pains and numbness in his limbs while riding a stationary bike. Doctors discovered that his left anterior descending artery was blocked and successfully reopened the artery with angioplasty. While he did not need open heart surgery, Ed says it was a major wake-up call for him and his wife, Jo-Beth. They began practicing principles for heart health and today encourage others to do the same. (Ed was already a runner.)
During a recent vacation, Ed and Drs. Mike Duncan and Rick Leachman, members of Ed’s church and two of America’s top cardiologists, played golf together. Mike, a cardiovascular surgeon, and Rick, an interventional cardiologist, talked about heart disease, America’s number one killer. They admitted that many of their patients need angioplasty, bypass surgery or a heart transplant because they have ignored good habits of diet and exercise. When Ed talked about his work, his primary reference was on the spiritual heart. As the three men chased golf balls, they realized they were all “heart doctors.” After several holes of golf, the three men decided to collaborate on a book called Total Heart Health.
Ed and Jo-Beth are so totally committed to Total Heart Health at their church that they have a worship center, a fully-equipped fitness center, a café serving healthy meals – all under the same roof! Ed says he is living proof that if people replace bad health habits with good habits then they too can be transformed, inside and out. In order to encourage others to adopt a Total Heart Health lifestyle, Ed, Mike and Rick encourage readers to embark on the 90-Day Challenge. While launching a new lifestyle doesn’t happen quickly, they believe that getting into a Total Heart Health lifestyle takes about 90 days. The program consists of 30 minutes of physical heart strengthening and 30 minutes of spiritual heart strengthening along with eating a sensible diet.
Many people talk about the physical problems in the heart but Ed says the most serious heart problems occur in the spiritual heart. “The spiritual heart is at the core of our being,” says Ed. When we have a spiritual blockage in our heart, we don’t feel or live right. Just like plaque that builds up in the coronary arteries, our spiritual hearts are blocked when foreign matter enters to compromise its purity. The opposite of a blocked heart is a pure heart. “We can never understand and enjoy the blessing and assurance of God unless we allow Him to purify our hearts,” says Ed. Debilitating spiritual blockages can be a buildup of unrepented sin, anger, addictions, spiritual indifference, and idolatry. If anything is gumming up our spiritual hearts, Ed says we need to clean it out now.
Ed says unbalanced lives are all too common in both men and women today. When one area of life is neglected or stressed, the whole person suffers as a result. “We need to rest and relax twice as long as we work,” says Ed. He says that God designed us to experience wholeness and health in body, soul and spirit. “We need God’s precise, healing Word in the hands of the Master Surgeon to keep our heart healthy and growing strong,” says Ed.
After her husband’s frightening close call, Jo-Beth also began adopting healthy lifestyle decisions. Heart attack symptoms in women are different than in men. Men complain of chest pains and numbness in the left arm. Women experience pain at the top of the back, a burning sensation in the upper abdomen, nausea, flulike symptoms, anxiety and sweating. Estrogen is thought to help protect against cardiovascular disease but with the onset of menopause, women become more vulnerable to heart disease. Women are motivated by benefits of appearance; men pursue their healthy goals to increase their strength.
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