Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:28 pm
Heart disease is not always noticeable until it is threatening a person’s life or until it is too late. In fact, 70% of the people who have a heart attack can pass a stress test on the day before, according to Dr. William Davis, a Milwaukee cardiologist who is affiliated with Columbia St. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s hospitals.
When it comes to controllable risk factors, the best way to prevent heart problems in the future is to keep a steady schedule of diet and exercise now.
"We cannot control our age, our genetic makeup, our gender, but we can control whether we are obese, our cholesterol intake, our exercise habits and smoking," said David Kasun, director of diagnostic and interventional procedures for the Wisconsin Heart Hospital, Wauwatosa. "My personal philosophy is that you cannot target one thing. People watching their cholesterol will not benefit from it if they are stressed."
Dr. Robert Roth, a cardiologist for Columbia St. Mary’s, said he recommends the diet designed by the American Heart Association when patients are in their first stage of prevention.
Roth said an average man should consume between 2,400 and 2,600 calories per day, and the average women should consume between 2,200 and 2,400 calories.
No more than 30% of the calories should come from fat, and no more than 300 mg of cholesterol should be consumed in one day.
"From a human nature standpoint, one of the challenges is getting past denial," Kasun said. "No one truly believes it is going to happen to them until it is staring them in the face. This process takes years and years to be noticeable. This is a lifelong process that you can’t start thinking about when you are 50 or 60."
To lose weight, Roth said, a person who burns 500 calories more than he eats in one day will lose one pound per week. Roth also suggested cutting calories while exercising.
"It is very clear that for the risk factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes, that exercise and healthy diet are essential and fundamental in managing people with these risk factors," Roth said. "It is very clear that exercise will lower blood sugar, and weight loss will decrease hypertension."
A low carbohydrate diet is crucial for patients with high cholesterol, according to Dr. Dianne Zwicke, an interventional cardiology and clinical associate professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin Medical School who has an office at St. Luke’s Medical Center, Milwaukee.
According to Zwicke, all of her patients who had high cholesterol, went on lipid medication and followed the low carbohydrate diet not only lost weight, but lowered their cholesterol.
"The low carbohydrate diet works well with people that take the time to educate themselves," Zwicke said. "Traditional dieticians are only willing to talk about the low fat diet, but that is not right for everyone. With the low carbohydrate diet, people learn to control what they eat and can then re-enter the real world."
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is one of two types of cholesterol found in the body. HDL is considered good cholesterol because of the high density. Low density lipoprotein (LDL) is bad cholesterol and is made up of small particles that burrow into the artery wall and build up a focus for plaque, which eventually clogs arteries, Zwicke said.
Mary Dutkiewicz, a cardiology nurse practitioner at All Saint’s Cardiovascular Institute, Racine, said everyone should have a scoring of at least 50 for HDL, and LDL should be less than 130.
"Good cholesterol strengthens in response to aerobic exercise and is weakened by nicotine," Dutkiewicz said. "Use canola oil, flax oil or olive oil instead of vegetable oil when cooking. Get essential fatty acids from tuna, mackerel and salmon. Three to four servings per week of walnuts, pecans and almonds will supply the body with omega oils. Soy protein, or any protein different from animal protein can be used for cardiac protection.
"This needs to be a lifestyle, not a short-term diet," Dutkiewicz said. "If we can show our children how to eat and be active, we are creating a much healthier generation."
April 30, 2004 Small Business Times, Milwaukee