What’s more serious than a heart attack? Being seriously bummed out after having one.
Around 20 percent of patients develop depression after a heart attack, and it’s really important to treat those blues pronto. If you survive a heart attack but get hit with major depression and don’t treat it, you’re three times more likely to die within six months than if you treat the condition quickly.
Now, you might think: “Hey, I just had a heart attack. How can I be happy?” But you need to stay positive. Focus on this fact: You have the power to make sure you never have another heart attack.
To do that:
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• Recognize the difference between being ticked off and being depressed. If you’re perpetually negative, alert your doctor.
• If you’re diagnosed with depression, use a combination of physical activity (a supervised walking program), an anti-inflammatory diet (eliminate any grain that isn’t 100 percent whole, all trans and most saturated fats, and all added sugars and sugar syrups), talk therapy and medication to help you recover from the heart attack and the depression.
• Get supportive care to change your lifestyle habits. Most insurance programs and Medicare will pay for a regular cardiac rehab program (which focuses on exercise) or an intensive cardiac rehab that provides exercise plus nutrition advice and social support. These programs are a great idea, because they can help you make sure you never need post-heart-attack care again.
Keeping muscles strong
Even the fittest athletes lose muscle tone with passing decades.
Here’s why: You don’t use your muscles as much as you used to. Plus, you have lower levels of growth hormone, which is good for preventing cancer spread, not so good for muscle growth. If you add to that lower levels of vitamin D-3, an imbalance in the acid-base content of foods you eat (more about that in a minute) and lack of enough protein and vitamin B-12, you’re going to lose muscle tone. But you can fight back.
To build muscles, you need about 68 grams of lean protein (skinless poultry, salmon, trout) a day if you weigh 150 pounds; a 1,000 IU supplement of vitamin D-3 daily, 1,200 IU if you’re over 60; and 25-100 mcg per day of a B-12 supplement if you’re 65 or older.
And about acid-base balance: Too many acid-producing foods (100 percent whole grains and lean proteins) and not enough veggies and fruit (they’re base) weakens muscles and bones. So aim for balance by making sure you eat nine servings of produce a day.
You need strength-building exercises — done for 20-30 minutes two to three times a week — combined with walking 10,000 steps a day.
Betting on the royal (hot) flush
The chance you’ll get a royal flush in poker is a staggering 1 out of 649,739 hands. But for a woman around 50, the chance of getting a hot flush (a hot flash accompanied by a red face and chest) is a lot higher: 30 percent to 80 percent of you can bet on it. And while hot flushes are uncomfortable, when they first hit, they’re a useful announcement that “menopause is coming.”
At this first sign that your hormones are headed for the off switch (sometimes called premenopause), you can take steps to reduce your risk of postmenopausal breast cancer by as much as 30 percent. You also can protect your brain and slash your risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, depression and a lackluster sex life.
Here’s our three-part plan to cool you off while you heat up your healthy habits.
1. To ward off hot flushes and weight gain, keep LDL (lousy) cholesterol in check, preserve muscle tone, fight depression and keep your heart, brain and breasts healthy, walk 10,000 steps a day and do strength-building exercises two to three times a week.
2. Saturated fats, sugars and processed foods let unhealthy gut bacteria flourish, and that hurts your immune system, blood sugar levels, brain and memory. So enjoy lean protein and lots of fresh fruits and veggies. You’ll balance intestinal bacteria while shedding pounds and improving digestion.
3. Talk to your doc about the benefits and risks of taking two baby aspirin a day along with hormone therapy using bioidentical estradiol and micronized progestin.
A family get-fit plan
We now know obesity is related to delayed bone development, joint and muscle problems, asthma, headaches and ear infections. Obese preteens can develop heart disease by age 15 or 16. And overweight kids are three times more likely to have high blood pressure.
But kids don’t want to be fat. So what’s the deal? Well, Mom and Dad, if you’re overweight, there’s an 80 percent chance your kids are, too. So if you want to keep your child healthy and happy — and what parent doesn’t — it’s time for a family get-fit plan.
• Change how you grocery shop: no prepared food; only fresh or frozen veggies. Eliminate all lunch meats, bacon and red meat; buy skinless poultry and fish (not fried). Choose nonfat dairy products and no (you have to read every label) high fructose corn syrup, added sugars or sugar syrup. Say bye to fast-food stops: Kids who eat fast food three times a week have more asthma, hay fever and eczema.
• Cook and eat together at least four nights a week. It increases every aspect of a child’s health — physically, emotionally and socially.
• Start a family walking program; work toward the goal of each getting 10,000 steps a day. Every evening, hit the pavement together.
A thigh of relief
Many people feel unaccepting of vaccinations. We recognize people’s concerns and want to make it clear that the benefits overwhelmingly outnumber the risks. For example, the DTap series (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) triggers a serious reaction in only 1 out of every million children vaccinated. And it spares millions of kids from horrendous illnesses. But the shots can trigger side effects that upset parents and make children uncomfortable: 25 percent of kids get a fever, redness, swelling and soreness or tenderness where the shot was given. For about 3 percent of kids, their arm can swell up for a week.
So, when there’s a way to reduce folks’ anxiety about one of the essential childhood vaccines, we want to spread the word. A study of 1.4 million kids ages 12 months to 35 months shows you can slash the likelihood of an injection-site reaction in half by moving the shot from the arm to the thigh — maybe because leg motions dispel the inflammation. (The switch may benefit kids 4-6 years old, too.) So ask your doc to try the thigh next time your child is due for DTap.