Author Archives: bettykuffel

About bettykuffel

An internal medicine physician and honors graduate of the University of Washington School of Medicine, Dr. Kuffel directed and worked in many Emergency Departments. Retired director of inpatient care at North Valley Hospital in Whitefish, Montana. In addition to writing a monthly health column in Montana Woman Magazine, Dr. Kuffel has several medical murder mysteries, a biological thriller, and additional Lipstick Logic Health Series Volumes in process. Her interests include photography, flying and marksmanship. She lives near the Rocky Mountains with her husband Tom and dog Valkyrie.

PREVENT HOLIDAY HEART ATTACK DEATHS

my-treeDeaths during the holiday period between December 25th and January 7th are higher than other times of the year.

Winter temperatures and snowfall in northern portions of the US contribute to heart attacks. Cold exposure can cause coronary artery spasm and when you are not accustomed to lifting, the exertion of shoveling snow is a significant factor. These are not the only causes of increased deaths at this time of year. Flu season, higher stress and travel can take a toll.

In a New Zealand study where the holiday season occurs in warm weather, they also found an increase in cardiac deaths. More studies are needed to explain the findings, but possible reasons include holiday travel. People delay seeking attention for symptoms away from familiar physicians and hospitals. Stress, rushing to flights, lugging packages, over-eating, and increased alcohol consumption are also factors.

  • If you are traveling, be sure to bring medical records, a medication list, enough medications for the entire trip, and even a copy of your baseline electrocardiogram.
  • Seek attention immediately for classic chest, arm, neck or jaw discomfort. Women sometimes have atypical symptoms of weakness, abdominal discomfort and shortness of breath.
  • All of these symptoms can be warning signs for an impending heart attack due to narrowing of coronary arteries.
  • Early treatment is life-saving. See a doctor right away, even if an ER evaluation interrupts festivities.

Have a safe and happy holiday season.

As a holiday gift to you, I have placed both the Kindle format and paperback of Your Heart on sale.

Betty Kuffel, MD

‘Mediterranean’ diet linked to lower risk of heart attacks, strokes in heart patients: But a ‘Western’ diet is not associated with an increased risk

A ‘Mediterranean’ diet, high in fruit, vegetables, fish and unrefined foods, is linked to a lower risk of heart attack and stroke in people who already have heart disease, according to a study of over 15,000 people in 39 countries around the world. The research also showed that eating greater amounts of healthy food was more important for these people than avoiding unhealthy foods — a ‘Western’ diet.

Source: ‘Mediterranean’ diet linked to lower risk of heart attacks, strokes in heart patients: But a ‘Western’ diet is not associated with an increased risk

Valentine’s Day is free Heart book day

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Our special free download event for Your Heart  has pushed it to #1 on the Top 100 Free in both the Internal Medicine and Cardiology categories! 

Thank you.

We’d love to have reviews from our readers posted to Amazon.

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Share YOUR HEART

Greetings from Betty and Bev
February is National Heart Month!

Heart disease is the #1 cause of death, but

with the right knowledge and actions, it is preventable.

We’d like to share our heart health guide FREE as a Valentine gift for you, your friends and family members. Click on YOUR HEART and it will take you to the Amazon purchase page where you and your friends can download a kindle copy of YOUR HEART FREE.

2016 Promo Graphic - 2

 

If you are healthy and want to stay that way, or if you are overweight, have diabetes or heart disease, our book Your Heart, can help. It provides the science behind coronary artery disease with actions to improve health and longevity, including information on the 5/2 Mediterranean diet. This is a healthy way to maintain your weight over a lifetime. It’s easy and it works. Overweight children show signs of early heart disease. The book contains information on how to keep kids healthy, too.

Please share this link with everyone! Your Heart

Happy Valentines Day and Have a healthy 2016.

Betty and Bev

Heart Disease is Preventable

IF CORONARY DISEASE IS PREVENTABLE WHY IS IT THE LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH IN BOTH MEN AND WOMEN?

The simple answer: Coronary artery narrowing is a silent disease that develops over many years from untreated risk factors that are unknown or not addressed.

People don’t realize they have heart disease until something bad happens, such as a heart attack or sudden death. They don’t realize subtle symptoms such as mild shortness of breath, upset stomach and fatigue are signs of heart disease. Women tend to complain less and are more often not diagnosed when they do see a physician.

Narrowed coronary arteries restrict blood flow to the heart muscle and begin causing symptoms that resolve with rest. When arteries become blocked, the pain persists. A part of theArtery heart dies because the muscle is starved of blood and oxygen. Sweating, weakness, discomfort in the chest, jaw, neck, arm and sometimes the back are common with a heart attack. This is a medical emergency and 911 should be called for immediate medical care. If the artery can be opened with angioplasty and stents soon enough, heart damage is decreased. Fifty percent of people who have heart attacks die before reaching a hospital.

Coronary artery disease is preventable, but unhealthy lifestyles and food choices are difficult to change. We live in a fast food environment. The number of people smoking has decreased and some people are making healthier food choices through education, but heart disease is still the leading cause of death. Obesity has increased to epidemic proportions, even in the young, so we have a long way to go to become a healthier nation.

50% of US citizens have either high blood pressure, high cholesterol or smoke
2/3 of adults are overweight or obese
1/3 of children are overweight or obese
Overweight 5-year-olds show evidence of early heart disease

Take control of your health and reduce heart disease risks with healthy actions. See a physician to monitor health and measure glucose, thyroid, cholesterol, vitamin D, blood count and inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein.
♥ Stop tobacco use
♥ Control high blood pressure
♥ Treat abnormal cholesterol levels with dietary modification and medication
♥ Obesity and Diabetes: normalize weight and glucose
♥ Exercise daily with your doctor’s recommendation
♥ Limit alcohol consumption
♥ Consider heredity factors and obtain early testing/treatment

You can counteract good genes by making bad life choices. You can offset bad genes by making healthy choices. The choice is yours to make.

Actions to Improve Heart Health

Actions to Improve Heart Health

Vegetable heartLifestyle and diet impact health and longevity. This concept was once again substantiated by a medical study presented at the recent American Heart Association Scientific Sessions meeting. Researchers at Allina Health and the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation shared information from their ten year joint study based in New Ulm, MN. This study examined modifying cardiovascular disease risk factors in a rural community.

Interventions impacting improved health of participants in the study included:
♥Health coaching
♥Heart health screening
♥Work site health improvement
♥Better food choices in restaurants
♥Encouraging farmer market shopping
♥Increasing physical activity in the community

Researchers looked at changes in heart disease risk factors over the first five years. In an additional study, they examined whether short-term lifestyle changes had any effect on HDL, high density lipoprotein, often termed the “good cholesterol” – the one you want high. With the Total Cholesterol/HDL ratio, heart disease risk prediction can be calculated. (These tests are included on standard lipid blood panels.) Researchers found weight loss the strongest lifestyle predictor for increasing HDL.

Findings included improvements in:
Blood pressure control
Cholesterol levels

In the studies, improving lifestyle choices, health care access, and environment changes in the community and workplaces, resulted in overall reduction of cardiovascular risks. Lack of exercise increased heart risk.

To calculate your personal heart risks, complete the survey at the Harvard School of Public Health: https://healthyheartscore.sph.harvard.edu/

Ted Talk Thursday ~ Heart Healthy

Dr. Dean Ornish was way ahead of the times in recommending healthier food choices and exercise to combat heart disease. Thank you indacampo.wordpress.com for sharing.

In Da Campo

There’s no point in giving up something you enjoy unless you get something back that’s even better, and quickly. ~ Dean Ornish ~

I had planned on a totally different talk for my Ted Talk Thursday but recent developments of heart issues with two members of my family within the last week changed my direction today.  I’ve just begun my research into what changes to make to improve heart health through lifestyle and diet, and so today I bring you two talks by Dr. Dean Ornish. 

For over 35 years, Dr. Ornish has directed clinical research demonstrating, for the first time, that lifestyle changes may begin to reverse even severe coronary heart disease, without drugs or surgery. Dr. Ornish is known for his lifestyle-driven approach to the control of coronary artery disease (CAD) and other chronic disease.  He is the author of six books and The Ornish Diet was rated #1 for heart health…

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WEIGHT CONTROL THROUGH THE 5/2 EATING PLAN

The Five/Two Eating Plan

As a method of weight loss and weight control, this easy solution of five/two pertains to a 7 day eating plan. Once you have reached your ideal weight, you transition to healthy baseline calorie intake every day. If you gain a pound, then you can transition back to the 5/2 plan. This is how it works:

·         For 5 days a week, you eat a healthy diet based primarily on fruits, vegetables, a few nuts, a little olive oil, limiting pasta or rice to twice a week. Add limited whole grains tokabob veg the mix, with low-fat meat, including salmon or other similar fish. Mirror your food selections with the Mediterranean diet like people who live along the southern Italian coast and Greek islands. Eating primarily fresh fruits, vegetables, and little saturated fat, they tend to live longer, in better health and with lower heart disease.

·          For two days a week, eat very few calories, only 500-600. The two days must not be consecutive. Instead separate them such as Monday and Thursday.

 Why not do the low calorie days together? Harsh calorie restriction can trigger what researchers call the starvation response. With starvation, the body revs up to store calories by lowering the metabolic rate and packing on calories when food becomes available. It is a natural process to maintain life.

Even though the two low calorie days are not true fasting, if they are consecutive such as Monday and Tuesday, your metabolic rate may be affected. Separating the days, combined with daily exercise such as walking is known to increase metabolic rate and calorie burn. — And, with exercise, you are unlikely to stimulate a starvation response. In fact, with a marked reduction in calorie intake and consistent exercise, you will lose weight.

 British physician Michael Mosley, described the 5/2 diet in his book FastDiet in 2012. In a follow up study done at the Aston University in the UK, they found intermittent fasting (very low calorie days) more effective than daily calorie restriction and calorie counting. Favorable findings included:

  • Reduced weight
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Reduced blood glucose
  • Reduced lipids (cholesterol)
  • Reduced blood pressure

True fasting (consuming no nutrition) has been shown to lower weight, prolong life, lower blood glucose and lower cholesterol levels. However, fasting also lowers metabolic rate, something you do not want, because your body becomes very efficient at storing excess calories and weight returns.

Eating two low calorie days per week is usually safe for Type 2 diabetics. Those taking medications and insulin must consult their medical provider for advice and to help manage medication dosages when reducing calorie intake. In the end, with weight loss, some Type 2 diabetics can reduce or stop some of their medications. Or, for those with borderline glucose elevations, weight loss and the drug Metformin, may help ward off the development of full-blown Type 2 diabetes. Without interventions, most people with borderline elevation of blood glucose will evolve to Type 2 diabetes within ten years.

 Pay special attention to your daily intake:

  • Choose fruits over sweets for desserts.
  • Exercise portion control. Avoid second helpings. Wait 30 minutes and see if you are really still hungry.
  • Do your best to prepare low calorie meals such as turkey breast instead of hot wings or steak.
  • Forget potatoes, pasta, gravy, cheese sauce and fattening salad dressing.
  • If you are preparing meals, serve light calorie recipes and fruit for dessert.
  • Take time to exercise

 Note: If you are, pregnant, breast feeding or a Type 1 diabetic, following a Mediterranean-type cuisine is healthy but do not follow the very low calorie day recommendations. However, this is a heart-healthy approach for those with high blood pressure and heart disease, even those who have had bypass and stent procedures.

 Betty Kuffel, MD

Follow: yourheartbook.com blog for additional updates

*****February 28th is the last day of the Sale*****

Your Heart – Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease in

Women, Men and Children

Kindle e-book $2.99   http://tinyurl.com/kindle-heart-sale     Your Heart Book Cover- Finalwfontchg.2 (Small)

Paperback $9.99   https://www.createspace.com/4330606

AMERICAN HEART MONTH

National Wear Red Day on February 7th

 In support of American Heart Month, we are providing excerpts from our book

and have reduced prices for the entire month of February.

 Your Heart – Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease in

Women, Men and Children

Kindle e-book $2.99   http://tinyurl.com/kindle-heart-sale     Your Heart Book Cover- Finalwfontchg.2 (Small)

Paperback $9.99   https://www.createspace.com/4330606

Excerpt:    Cardiovascular Disease

Coronary arteries carry blood, nutrients and oxygen to the heart muscle. When waxy cholesterol accumulates within the inner artery wall, it stiffens the artery and begins blocking the flow of blood. The artery disease is called atherosclerosis. The word describes what is happening: athero means fat; sclerosis means hardening. Many people call atherosclerosis “hardening of the arteries.”

Because this destructive process occurs not only in the heart arteries, but in arteries throughout the body, it is called cardiovascular disease. When blood flow is decreased to other organs, such as the kidneys and brain, kidney failure and dementia occur.

Many other forms of heart disease are the result of infection, toxins, hereditary factors and congenital abnormalities over which you have little control. But with the right information, you can take control and treat atherosclerosis. The sooner you make good decisions to improve your health, the more likely you are to add years to your life. Food choices play a huge role. Both men and women are developing coronary artery disease at younger ages. Early evidence of coronary artery disease is even seen in children.

Beginning at a young age, what you eat makes a huge difference. Arteries are more likely to become narrowed throughout the entire body if predominant food choices are:

● High in salt, fat and calories — such as potato chips and French fries

● High in sugar — such as sweet-rolls, pancakes and candy

● High in saturated fats — such as bacon cheese-burgers

Many factors contribute to coronary artery disease; smoking and uncontrolled high blood pressure are two of the most harmful. In the US each year, these two factors are responsible for one-in-five heart related deaths. Next are obesity and inactivity, accounting for approximately one-in-ten heart deaths per year.

Experts agree inflammation is the likely trigger for atherosclerosis. Diabetes, obesity and inactivity are directly related to developing atherosclerosis. Other factors include: high LDL-cholesterol, stress, excessive alcohol intake, and illicit drug use. All of them increase inflammation in the body. Blood tests can measure inflammatory markers that correlate with coronary artery disease.

Daily stress levels rise with holding a job while juggling household responsibilities and securing childcare. Job burn-out, job loss, depression, sleeplessness and anxiety, all raise blood pressure and add to heart disease risks. Additionally, working the night shift adds to serious health problems including heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

Gender makes a difference. Men tend to develop coronary artery disease years earlier than women. Younger, premenopausal estrogen-producing women are typically at lower coronary disease risk than men the same age because estrogen is protective. As postmenopausal women age, their risks soon equal those in men.

This guide will take you through body processes contributing to the coronary artery disease epidemic and provide accurate science-based information about actions to improve your health. Even if you already have been diagnosed with coronary artery disease, you have the ability to stop its progression. Aggressive treatment can reverse changes inside the artery wall.

Remember — prevention is always the best medicine.

More life-saving information like this can be found in Your Heart: Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease in Women, Men & Children

Betty Kuffel, MD

Bev Erickson co-author/artist/cover design

FAST HEALTHY FOOD CHOICES FOR 2014

If you are a fast food junkie or frequently eat in restaurants, healthier options are becoming available but it is still up to you to make the choice. Forget the bread; choose baked or grilled options and a salad with low fat dressing.

Guidelines for heart health and weight reduction are everywhere but take a look at shopper’s grocery carts. How many of them are filled with fresh fruits and vegetables? Not many.

Some processed foods may be healthy, but you must read labels carefully and then decide. I WmSonoma hot chocolaterecently wanted to purchase a hot chocolate mix to serve during winter holiday activities. Many products on the shelves contained many ingredients I couldn’t identify as safe, even after years of studying chemistry. I left without making a purchase. Most mixes contained unpronounceable chemicals, plus significant fat and sugar.

 Later I found a hot chocolate powder at Williams-Sonoma made with bittersweet chocolate, sugar and peppermint oil that looked a bit healthier. But, if it’s that difficult to buy a hot chocolate mix, it may take you all day to read all packaged food labels of the items you want to purchase. On the other hand, if you avoid the center isles of the grocery and purchase fresh and frozen products, you will save time and money and have a better chance of improving your health.

Fast Healthy Choices to Consider:

Fat Free Yogurt, raw oatmeal with flax seed is quick and heart healthy

Fresh fruits and vegetables require little preparation – many can be eaten raw.

Fresh meats – wash, season and grill – avoid frying or adding gravy or sauces

Fresh or frozen cold water fish like salmon, cod or trout – marinade and grill in minutes

Avoid sweets, fats and breads (except hearty whole wheat or multi-grains)

Limit your portions

Exercise

Choose unprocessed grains: oatmeal, steel cut oats, rice, wild rice, barley, whole grain breads. Avoid sugar-rich granola, sugary cereals and white breads.

Choose fresh fruits and vegetables: you’ll save money by purchasing whole or bulk fruits and Saladveggies like bags of potatoes, apples, full sized carrots, heads of lettuce, celery, cauliflower and broccoli – wash and cut them as you need them.

Choose fish and lean meat; boil/bake/broil – no frying. Avoid all fried foods for a healthier heart and weight.

 Med.FoodExercise a minimum of 30 minutes three times a week.