CHAMBERSBURG, Pa.– A crowd of 300 people were in attendance Feb. 27 at Summit Health’s Heart Disease & Weight Management seminar at Wilson College.
Keynote speakers Dr. Arshad Safi of Summit Cardiology and Dr. Paul Klink, of Summit Weight Management Services provided important reminders and tips to attendees on how small lifestyle changes can make big differences for heart health.
“Heart disease remains the number one cause of death in the United States,” Dr. Safi said. “It causes 2,400 deaths every day. So, we need to live healthier and make changes, but only you can decide to make those changes.”
Dr. Safi shared his 10 tips for a healthier heart:
- Be active
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Eat healthy
- Quit smoking
- Avoid stress
- Control your blood pressure
- Lower your cholesterol
- Control your diabetes
- Take your medications
- Listen to your cardiologist
Dr. Safi noted that according to the American Heart Association, 150 minutes of moderate activity like walking fast or 75 minutes of vigorous activity like running each week can lead to a healthier life.
He also stressed the importance of not smoking.
“On average,” he noted “a smoker will die 10 years before a non-smoker.”
He encouraged the crowd to stop smoking, and he also encouraged them to avoid e-cigarettes as there has been no conclusive evidence about their use.
“Talk to your doctor,” he said. “Starting small and switching from cigarettes to patches can help, but eventually, for your health, you need to stop completely. Even the e-cigarette products still offer some harmful chemicals.”
“Find a reason to make the change,” Dr. Safi said. “And, then make the commitment. Listen to your doctors, ask questions, and work together to be healthy.”
Dr. Paul Klink echoed Dr. Safi and added that starting to make changes is important, even if it’s starting small.
“Once you’ve decided to make changes, ask yourself if this is something you can do forever,” Dr. Klink said. “If the change seems too big, start even smaller.”
Klink provided attendees with useful food tips including:
- Eat at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables each day.
- Make ½ of your daily grains whole grains.
- Avoid eating red meat like hamburgers, hotdogs, steaks or lunchmeat more than 3 times per week.
- Reduce your added sugar intake.
- Avoid trans fats
- Look for foods lower in sodium
- Avoid drinking regular soda
Dr. Safi had noted in his presentation that many of the people he treats tell him that they do not eat breakfast.
Dr. Klink provided information to the crowd showing that people who do not eat breakfast in the morning are at a 450% increased risk of being obese, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.
“This is a startling number. But again I’ll say, start small,” Klink noted. “If you are not a breakfast eater, start with trying a piece of fruit for breakfast every day, or a healthy yogurt or healthy cereal. You need to eat food within 2 hours of waking up to start your metabolism for the day. If you skip breakfast, your body’s metabolism is going to be slower. So even a small breakfast is better than when you were having no breakfast.”
Both Dr. Safi and Dr. Klink agreed that added sugars, added salts and added fats are a major cause of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and even some cancers. The doctors also provided new information on the use of vitamins.
“Recent studies have shown no effect of vitamins or mineral supplements on cardiovascular disease, cancer or mortality,” Dr. Klink said.
He noted that for small groups of people vitamins may help and for small groups of people vitamins may be harmful. However, in general, if you are eating a healthy nutrient rich diet, according to Klink, vitamins are of no benefit.
The seminar was sponsored by Summit Health. Attendees were also offered free blood pressure screenings, free BMI calculations and cardiac risk assessments by Summit Cardiology and Chambersburg Hospital’s Cardiology Services.