"Now more than ever before, we have the tools to stack the deck in favor of prevention," says Stephen Devries, M.D., preventative cardiologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital's Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute and the Center for Integrative Medicine and Wellness in Chicago.
uses a blend of natural therapies combined with conventional, high-tech therapies when treating patients at risk for heart disease.
Some of the nonpharmaceutical approaches he
finds most effective are dietary changes, the use of supplements, and treatment aimed at addressing the mind and body connection.
Diet for Risk Reduction A healthy diet is among the best ways to avoid cholesterol buildup, which can increase your risk of developing heart disease.
Doctors recommend limiting nutrient-void foods like sweets and food high in fat and calories, and recommend more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, which contain sterols to help block the absorption of cholesterol.
"Most people underestimate the potency of diet for prevention," says Devries
, who favors a Mediterranean diet that has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 70 percent.
Mediterranean diets include six daily servings of vegetables, two daily servings of fruit, two fish meals per week, exclusive use of olive and canola oils, limited intake of red meat and no processed carbohydrates such as cereal, soda or white flour.
See Page 78 From Page 77 Supplements Over-the-counter supplements may be an alternative to prescription cholesterol-lowering medicines for those who are unwilling or unable to take prescriptions due to a history of side effects.
Supplements commonly used by Devries
include fish oil, red yeast rice extract and plant stanols/sterols. • Fish Oil--The active ingredients are omega-3 fatty acids, called DHA and EPA
, which can lower fats called triglycerides and help convert "bad" cholesterol (LDL) to a healthier form.
"These new blood tests allow us to go far beyond cholesterol to examine very serious inherited risks that were unknown a short time ago, but can now be treated," says Devries
Mind/Body Connection Stress, anger and depression can have a strong impact on heart health that researchers are only just beginning to fully understand.
To address the correlation between the mind and body, centers such as Northwestern Memorial's Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute
and the Center for Integrative Medicine
and Wellness have incorporated cardiac behavioral medicine into their practice.
"The mind and heart are intricately connected.
Stress-reducing techniques such as acupuncture, biofeedback and healing touch can lower stress, reduce blood pressure and keep your heart strong and healthy," says Devries
To learn more about heart disease or Dr. Devries
, visit www.nmh.org or call (866) 662-8467.
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