The Doctor Says…
Dr. Travis Stork, emergency room physician and co-host of “The Doctors,” talks about heart health and highlights ways people can make a difference in their personal heart health and cholesterol:
As the No. 1 killer of Americans, cardiovascular disease affects one in three people in the U.S. – approximately 82.6 million people.1 The American Heart Association predicts that this staggering number will increase to 116 million people, or 40.5 percent of Americans, by 2030.2 Thankfully, there are simple steps you can easily incorporate into your day-to-day life that can make a big difference.
I understand first-hand the role that genetics can play in cholesterol levels and overall heart health. While family history is certainly important, there are lifestyle changes you can make and foods you can eat as part of an overall healthy diet that can decrease the risk of heart disease and may help lower cholesterol.
- Be Whole-Hearted: Add whole grain oats to your diet. Oats contain beta glucan, which is a soluble fiber that helps naturally remove some cholesterol. So whether it’s a bowl of oatmeal or a bowl of whole grain oat cereal, like original Cheerios, oats help support heart health. Three grams of soluble fiber daily from whole grain oat foods as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce your risk of heart disease. Original Cheerios has 1 gram per serving.
- Take Baby Steps: Small changes can make a big impact on your health. For instance, when making a salad, refrain from using creamy dressings, which can turn a meal into one that’s unhealthy for your heart. Instead, use olive oil, which is a healthier alternative.
- Select Healthy Options: Make good decisions while dining out; order foods that are steamed or grilled rather than fried or sautéed in unhealthy oils. Ask how your meal is going to be prepared before you order. Feel free to ask for substitutions.
- Feel the Burn: Remember to exercise. Incorporate fitness into your life so it becomes a part of your daily schedule. No time for a formal workout? Just get on your feet more throughout the day!
- Put out the Fire: Smoking automatically increases your risk of heart disease regardless of what foods you eat or how much you exercise.
- Taking a few moments each day to make good decisions for yourself can make a significant difference in your future.
1 Roger VL, Go AS, Lloyd-Jones DM, Benjamin EJ, Berry JD, Borden WB, Bravata DM, Dai S, Ford ES, Fox CS, Fullerton HJ, Gillespie C, Hailpern SM, Heit JA, Howard VJ, Kissela BM, Kittner SJ, Lackland DT, Lichtman JH, Lisabeth LD, Makuc DM, Marcus GM, Marelli A, Matchar DB, Moy CS, Mozaffarian D, Mussolino ME, Nichol G, Paynter NP, Soliman EZ, Sorlie PD, Sotoodehnia N, Turan TN, Virani SS, Wong ND, Woo D, Turner MB; on behalf of the American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. Executive summary: heart disease and stroke statistics—2012 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2012; 125: 188-197.
2 Heidenreich PA, Trogdon JG, Khavjou OA, et al. Forecasting the Future of Cardiovascular Disease in the United States: A Policy Statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. Published online ahead of print January 24, 2011.