Eat Your Beans!

Jan. 31, 2020 at 12:12pm

Beans, peas and other legumes help your heart because they are great sources of complex carbohydrates, fiber, folate, protein, phytochemical and other nutrients, but contain little or no fat and no cholesterol. 

Their soluble fiber is particularly effective in lowering blood cholesterol. Did you think oatmeal did the trick? Well, it is good for you, all right, but a half-cup serving of kidney or lima beans has twice the soluble fiber as three-quarters of a cup of oat bran or oatmeal.

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Strength Training & Blood Pressure

Jan. 29, 2020 at 1:03pm

Doctors used to warn people with high blood pressure against strength training, but that has changed. Recent research shows that strength training can be as effective as aerobic exercise at lowering blood pressure. Thus, the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association now recommend that people with elevated blood pressure do both aerobic exercise and moderate resistance training.

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Abdominal Obesity and Dementia

Jan. 24, 2020 at 11:59am

Abdominal obesity, called Metabolic Syndrome, has long been identified as a cardiac risk factor. Now a large recent study suggests that it is also associated with a higher risk of dementia. The study characterized abdominal obesity as a waist measurement of 35 inches or more for men and 33.5 inches or more for women.

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Bad Sleep, Bad Heart

Dec. 10, 2019 at 10:33am

New research suggests that people who have trouble sleeping may be more likely to suffer from heart disease and stroke. The ten year study involved almost 500,000 participants measured for trouble getting to sleep, waking up too early and having a problem staying focused during the day. 

People with all three symptoms were 18 percent more likely to develop heart disease or stroke than participants that had no symptoms. Researchers concluded that helping people overcome sleep troubles could reduce the number of cases of stroke and heart attack later down the line.

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The Benefits of Running

Nov. 26, 2019 at 1:48pm

Going for a run just once a week could be enough to cut your risk of early death, says a recent study of 230,000 people over 35 years. Researchers found that the people who did any running at all were 27% less likely to suffer premature death. 

Runners had a 30% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular problems and a 23% reduced risk of dying from cancer. Just 50 minutes of jogging a week produced health benefits.

And if you do not like running, try walking. The benefits that come from a 30-minute run can be experienced with a 45-minute brisk walk.

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Nov. 20, 2019 at 9:54am

New studies are warning millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) of troubling generational health patterns. It seems that millennials are subject to higher rates of depression, hyperactivity, high cholesterol and substance abuse, resulting in a 40% higher mortality rate than (the preceding) Generation X. Here is a tip: Get off of your screens!

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Supplements in Question

Oct. 15, 2019 at 2:48pm

Americans have had an obsession with dietary supplements as a quick and easy way to get cardioprotective nutrition.  The problem is that when tested in rigorous clinical trials, many are shown to do little to protect cardiac health.

Getting certain nutrients from food can certainly reduce cardiac risk, but getting the nutrients from supplements is not the same.  A recent study found that two in 16 nutritional supplements recommended for preventing cardiovascular disease offered any protection, and even those two (omega-3 fatty acids and folic acid) had uncertain evidence.

The bottom line: get your nutrients from eating foods.  I recommend the Mediterranean diet as a great way to bolster cardiovascular protection.

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Naturally Lower Blood Sugar

Aug. 27, 2019 at 9:50am

You do not have to spend hours in the gym to get the blood-sugar-lowering benefits of exercise. Short, but frequent walking breaks - as brief as two minutes every half hour - can lower blood sugar naturally. Or, take the stairs more often or park farther from the store. The more active you are, the more your muscles will remove glucose from the blood.

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Joes Blog

Aug. 20, 2019 at 8:33pm

Recent studies found the risk of obesity jumps almost 25 percent with each two-hour increase in daily television watching. No wonder one health expert calls TV "a weapon of mass destruction."

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Chocolate and Heart Health

Aug. 5, 2019 at 1:33pm

Great news!: Chocolate may protect heart health. A 12-year study in England with over 21,000 adults found that those with the highest chocolate consumption had the lowest rate of heart attack and stroke, and also had lower blood pressure, inflammation and diabetes.

As a chocolate-lover, I am happy with this news. But as a person commited to good health, I subscribe to the words of St. Thomas Aquinas - "Moderation in all things."

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Lifestyle Medicine

Aug. 1, 2019 at 11:49am

The newest edition of Lifestyle Medicine, edited by Dr. James Rippe, has just been published.  In its over 1400 pages, it sets forth the latest science on the impact of daily habits and actions that profoundly impact both short- and long-term health and quality of life.  As such, it serves physicians and other health professionals who are incorporating lifestyle medical practices with their patients.


At the invitation of Dr. Rippe, numerous national experts were asked to contribute chapters on nutrition, physical activities, obesity and weight management, and more.  The book contains 126 chapters.


Joe Piscatella was invited to write a chapter on A Patient’s Perspective on the Keys to Longevity: 40 Years after Undergoing Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery. He is the only non-medical contributor to Lifestyle Medicine.  Says Joe, “I am deeply honored to be part of this undertaking.”


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42 Years

Jul. 21, 2019 at 1:46pm

Saturday, July 20, was the 42nd anniversary of my bypass surgery.  
Many thanks to my doctors, friends and family who have supported and encouraged me, especially to my wife, Bernie. She is the real hero in this story.
Recently my doctor asked me if there is a secret to managing my heart disease over all these years. I said "Yes. And here it is:"
Trust God
Love Your Wife
Do Your Work
Pretty simple, no?

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Jul. 14, 2019 at 8:11pm

There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure Somebody would do it.  Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did.  Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybodys job.  Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody would not do it.  It ended up that Everybody blamed somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.


The responsibility for how you live your life starts and stops with you. Do not wait for Somebody to step in on your behalf.

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Jul. 7, 2019 at 7:23pm

A lady whose friend was a chronic worrier said to her one day, "Do you realize that 80 percent of the things you worry about never happen?"  "See," her friend replied, "it works."

Have you noticed that all roads lead to the refrigerator when you are worried?  Have you also realized that fretting often makes you too tired - at least mentally - to exercise?  The key question to ask yourself is this:  Is there anything I can do to alleviate my worry?  

If you are late for a meeting, you use your cell phone to let peope know you are running late. Bingo!  You no longer have to worry.  On the other hand, if your order does not arrive but it is too late in the day to contact the shipper, acknowledge that there is nothing you can do until tomorrow and put the worry aside until the morning.  

My wife, Bernie, has a great technique.  "I just figure out the worst-case scenario," she says,.  "Once I know that, I can handle any situation without stressing out."

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Jul. 1, 2019 at 11:01am

it takes courage to commit to healthy habits at any time, but particularly when you are feeling weak or vulnerable.  And, of course, that is when you need your courage most.

Frank was 79 years old when I met him in a cardiac rehabilitation program.  He had experienced two heart attacks before undergoing bypass surgery, and now he was apprehensive that exercise might trigger a third attack.  Despite the reassurance and encouragement that the staff gave him, Frank was still not convinced.  But he walked on the treadmill anyway.  

When I asked him how he had managed to make himself do that, he replied, "I knew I needed to exercise, but I was still afraid.  Then I remembered what General Omar Bradley said during World War II: Bravery is the capacity to perform properly, even when scared half to death.  I guess that is where I am."

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Jun. 27, 2019 at 11:01am

Creating new eating habits demands patience.  It can take between six weeks and six months.  Why so long?  Because we have a lot to unlearn.  We go to the doctor or a registered dietitian with an eating problem that took years to develop and say, "Fix me!  I have an hour."  

Unfortunately, an affinity for doughnuts does not develop overnight.  There is no pill, prayer or principle that will instantly undo the damage of years of poor eating habits.  It requires hard work and - did I mention this? - patience.  Making healthy changes is an evolutionary, not a revolutionary, process.

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Monday Motivation

Jun. 25, 2019 at 9:06am

"You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you do not try."
--Beverly Sills, Opera Singer

Twice, General Douglas MacArthur was refused admission to West Point. But he was accepted on the third try and would march into history books. Famous author Rudyard Kipliong received a rejection letter from the San Francisco Examiner saying, "Sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just do not know how to use the English language."

The music teacher of Opera star Enrico Caruso told him he had no voice at all and could not sing. The schoolteachers of Einstein described him as "mentally slow, unsociable and adrift in his foolish dreams." By age 46, Beethoven was completely deaf, and he wrote five of his greatest symphonies without hearing a note. At age 66, after several political defeats, Winston Churchill became one of the greatest prime ministers of Britain.

You get my point, right? Life is about overcoming! So do not worry about failing; worry about not trying.

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Four Secrets to Living Longer

Oct. 4, 2017 at 11:38am

You can not depend on good genes to carry you past the century mark. Research into older people has revealed that certain lifestyle habits are connected to a long life. Everyone knows that eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, not smoking and maintaining a healthy weight works for longevity.
Read more

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Three Strings

Sep. 26, 2017 at 12:14pm

There is a story told about Itzhak Perlman, the famous violinist, who was playing in New York. Stricken with polio as a child, he always crossed the stage on crutches, moving painfully and laboriously. On this particular night, he reached the chair, sat down, slowly put his crutches on the floor, and undid the clasps on his legs. Then he bent to pick up the violin, put it under his chin, nodded to the conductor, and began to play.

Read more

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Mickey Mantle

Sep. 7, 2017 at 12:32pm

"If I knew I would live this long, I would have taken better care of myself."

--Mickey Mantle

As a great baseball player as Mickey Mantle was, he could not reach his full potential because of injuries. He did not train in the off-season; he did not cut down on late-night parties during the regular season. All the men in his family had died young, and knowing that, he was somewhat fatalistic about his own health.

But genetic history is not predestination. I have seen people offset bad genes with healthy lifestyles. And I have seen people offset good genes with poor lifestyle choices. You can not do much about your genetic makeup, but you can do a lot about the way you live. Just think what Mickey could have accomplished if he had understood that.

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Visualize for Success

Jul. 25, 2017 at 4:03pm

I grew up a die-hard New York Yankees fan. I followed the team religiously, knew players and managers from their earliest history, celebrated World Series victories, hated the Red Sox, and lived for those trips with my father and brother to Yankee Stadium. Like most fans of that era, I was crazy for Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Whitey Ford, and Bobby Richardson—the guys who played exceptionally well but also looked the part of Yankee “supermen” in the tradition of Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio. But I always had a special place in my heart for Yogi Berra.

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Avoid Social Isolation

Jul. 19, 2017 at 9:45am

Stress may be the single greatest contributor to illness in the industrialized world. Indeed, it is estimated that 75% of all diseases and illnesses are stress related. Of particular importance is the impact of stress on cardiovascular health and overweight/obesity. On the surface level, stress produces direct, deleterious effects: it injures artery walls, raises blood pressure, elevates cholesterol, causes coronary inflammation, and causes coronary artery spasms that can lead to sudden cardiac death. But stress also works on an indirect, insidious level to produce disastrous health consequences. People under chronic stress often make poor lifestyle choices. In trying to cope, they smoke, neglect exercise, eat too much and too often, make poor food choices and abuse alcohol and drugs.

Read more

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Do Not Be a Fool for Fraud

Jun. 21, 2017 at 1:41pm

Quick-fix weight-loss gadgets and gimmicks have skyrocketed. Sales of diet pills and supplements have risen to more than $5 billion a year. Do not be mislead. Many of these products are not only ineffective but potentially dangerous.

Read more

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Thoughts on Bypass Surgery

Jun. 1, 2017 at 1:49pm

Coronary bypass surgery probably saved my life, but people considering this procedure should be aware of four things. To start with, it takes away the pain (angina), but does not remove the underlying cause - coronary heart disease.
Read more

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Can Optimism Make A Difference in Your Life?

May. 25, 2017 at 11:03am

An article from the Verdant Health Commission:

If you’re a person who always has a rosy outlook and sees the glass as half-full rather than half-empty, your positive attitude may have even more benefits than you think.

A growing number of scientific studies indicate that optimistic people tend to live longer and have better physical and mental health than pessimistic people.

Read more

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Men Drink, Women Think

Apr. 28, 2017 at 10:53am

Chronic stress is part and parcel of modern life in the U.S. It is often the underlying reason for much of the depression in the country. For many years scientists assumed that the behavioral response to depression were similar for both sexes. New studies, however, show that this is not the case.
Read more

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Get Your Calories Early in the Day

Apr. 21, 2017 at 11:03am

Many people skip breakfast and lunch altogether. And those who do eat these meals often have a Danish for breakfast and fast food for lunch. When these people get home in the evening and relax, they tend to eat much more at dinner than they need. The American Dietary Association estimates that over half of overweight women eat 70% of their daily calories after 7:00 P.M.

A better way is to take in the majority of calories at breakfast and lunch so that they can be burned in the course of the day. If you are going on a road trip, do you fill up at your destination or before you leave?

Read more

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Diabetes Risk

Apr. 12, 2017 at 1:55pm

Diabetes: A Cardiac Risk

About 24 million Americans, nearly 8% of the population, have diabetes, a condition that disrupts the way the body uses glucose. For the body to absorb glucose, the hormone insulin, which is produced in the pancreas, is necessary. But in people with diabetes the pancreas does not produce insulin (or produces too little of it) or the body does not properly use the insulin that is produced. As a consequence, glucose builds up in the blood and eventually begins to appear in the urine. Over time, high glucose levels can cause devastating results such as stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, and amputation. Diabetes is the fourth leading cause of death (often prematurely) in the U.S. And heart disease is the leading cause of diabetes-related death. Studies suggest that diabetes raises the risk of heart disease in men by 69% and in women by a whopping 174%.

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Heart Health Tip

Mar. 23, 2017 at 12:57pm

Get Enough Sleep

According to the National Sleep Foundation, Americans are sleep-deprived workaholics. Only about a third of us are sleeping the recommended seven to eight hours a night, 44% report trouble falling asleep, 48% say they wake up in the night too often and 50% say they wake up unrefreshed. In fact, 40% say they have trouble staying awake on the job.
According to a review of 15 studies published in the European Heart Journal, consistently sleeping less than six hours a night nearly doubles your risk of heart attack and stroke.

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Heart Health Tip

Mar. 17, 2017 at 9:57am

Get a Friend with Four Legs

This is not as offbeat as it may sound. Scientific evidence suggests that those who keep pets are likely to benefit from improvements in physical and emotional well-being. Indeed, pets seem to be particularly therapeutic for people with or at risk of heart disease. Several years ago, researchers studied patients in a coronary-care unit at a major hospital. All had experienced a heart attack or had severe chest pain. In a one-year follow up, 28% of those who did not own pets had died, as compared with only 6% of pet owners.
Read more

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Waist Size

Mar. 13, 2017 at 10:20am

Waist Size can be a Health Hazard

You were a pretty good jock in high school, and in your 20s you tried everything from racquetball to running. But in middle age, even your softball glove is gathering dust. For recreation, you surf — the Web, not the waves.

Male attitudes toward health also make men less likely than women to see a doctor.

The fact is, the fat around your abdomen is no laughing matter. A man’s waist circumference, particularly if 40 inches or greater, often warns of later problems ranging from heart disease to cancer, diabetes, arthritis, back pain, and sleep apnea.

Read more

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Nutritional Balance

Feb. 17, 2017 at 11:23am

There has never been a time where there has been more information available on healthy eating – from bestselling diet books, to infomercials for cleanses, and secret tips in glossy magazines. Unfortunately, many are not based on credible nutritional science. Watching medical experts tout the addition or subtraction of one nutrient as deliverance—only to change the channel and hear someone equally-thoroughly-credentialed touting the opposite—it can be tempting to write off nutrition advice altogether. This month we hear something is good, and next we almost expect to hear it’s bad. Why not assume the latest research will all eventually be nullified, and just close our eyes and eat whatever tastes best?

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How to Survive a Heart Attack When Alone

Jan. 24, 2017 at 11:43am

It's 7:00 PM and you're going home after a hard day on the job. You are tired, upset and frustrated. Suddenly you start to experience severe pain in your chest (often described as "an elephant sitting on my chest") that works it's way down your arm and up into your jaw.
You are still some miles from a hospital and you're not sure you'll be able to make it that far. You know CPR but you can't perform it on yourself. How do you survive a heart attack when alone?
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The Key to Sticking with Your Exercise Resolution

Jan. 11, 2017 at 10:00am

The Key to Sticking with Your Exercise Resolution: Get a Partner

January is a perfect month to commit to a program of regular exercise. And that is exactly what thousands of people do – join a YMCA or health club, buy a piece of home exercise equipment or start a walking program. Exercise becomes part of their “new year, new you” resolution.

Most people are familiar with the benefits of regular exercise. Yet, according to Dr. Len Kravitz, Director of Exercise Science at the University of New Mexico, approximately 50% those who begin exercise programs drop out within the first six months. Many people who start in January with good exercise intentions find that by April they stop going to the health club, drape clothes over their home exercise equipment, and never find time for a walk. The challenge then is not only to start an exercise program but to sustain it. It must become a lifetime habit in order to support good health.

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Going Backward

Jan. 4, 2017 at 12:10pm

Heart Disease Death Rate Rises

I thought we were making great progress with cardiovascular disease, the biggest killer in the U.S. for more than a century. Indeed, death rates from heart disease in the U.S. have declined nearly 70% since 1969, brought about by antismoking and other public-health campaigns, medications to control blood pressure and cholesterol, and new techniques for saving peoples' lives from heart attacks.
Read more

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Women & Heart Disease

Dec. 30, 2016 at 12:27pm

Lessons from Carrie Fisher

The recent tragic deaths of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds has surfaced two issues: 1) the prevalence of heart disease in American women, and 2) the impact of stress in triggering a cardiovascular event. This blog is about women and heart disease. A future blog will look at “dying from a broken heart,” a phrase being used to describe Debbie Reynolds death.

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Season's Best Wishes

Dec. 23, 2016 at 12:16pm

Merry Christmas and best wishes for a Happy, Healthy New Year.

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