Steward Cardiac Rehabilitation and Prevention Program Helps Patients Reduce Heart Health Risk
Dr. Uyen Lam, medical director, provides heart health tips
(BRIGHTON, MA) – For more than 70 years, heart disease has been the leading cause of death in the United States. In observance of Heart Health Month, Dr. Uyen Lam, medical director of the Bernard D. Kosowsky, MD Cardiovascular Rehabilitation and Prevention Center, affiliated with St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, is offering tips on how to improve overall heart health and reduce the risk of a cardiac event.
“Heart health goes beyond procedures, surgery, and taking medications,” said Dr. Lam. “You need to take care of the body on a daily basis.”
To help people take charge of their heart health, Dr. Lam and the care team at the Kosowsky Center created a month-long calendar of health tips (see photo). She also spoke about the importance of getting adequate exercise and proper nutrition.
“Sedentary lifestyle and over-consumption of high calorie, overly processed foods have consistently been shown to be detrimental to our health. The American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week. This averages to about 20-30 minutes per day. Moderate intensity exercise includes a brisk walk, water aerobics, biking, doing yard work, etc. This doesn’t mean that going to the gym for 30 minutes and being sedentary the rest of the day equates to good health,” said Dr. Lam. “You are better off doing a low-moderate intensity work at a constant rate through the day.”
Nutritionally, Dr. Lam advises “more color on the plate the better,” vegetables and whole grain foods not only provide color but include necessary vitamins and minerals for heart health. She also advises against consuming overly processed foods including deli meats, which are high in sodium and preservatives. Buying all organic is also not necessary and can also be cost prohibitive for many.
Dr. Lam also notes that one thing people should realize is cardiovascular disease builds up over years, with many modifiable risk factors. Overall, current rates of death related to cardiac disease have remained about the same during the last several years.
“During COVID, there was reported slightly reduced rates of myocardial infarction, but we’re not sure if people were just not coming to the hospital,” said Dr. Lam. “Some hypothesize the decline can be attributed to people getting more sleep or having less stress as people were not working or were working from home.”
The Kosowsky Center celebrates its fourth anniversary this month. Dr. Lam said since its inception, she and other care providers there have seen the program deliver a positive impact in terms of modifiable risk factors for patients, especially regarding weight reduction, diabetes control and lipid control.
“Patients who stick with the program learn useful tools to improve their overall health, not just on disease modification, but also from a psychosocial standpoint,” Dr. Lam said. “We also see a drop in depression scores and improvement in anxiety levels”.
Patients can enroll in cardiac rehab at the Kosowsky Center through a referral from any of their physicians long as they meet a qualifying diagnosis, Dr. Lam said. She encourages primary care physicians who have eligible patients to contact the center to enroll their patients. The center is located at 280 Washington St., Suite 100, Brighton, and may be reached at 617-787-7901.
The Environmental Working Group – non-profit organization committed to protecting the environment and promote healthy living releases annual reports on produce with most pesticide contamination called the “dirty dozen” (https://www.ewg.org/areas-focus/food-water/food). Follow this list to focus your organic purchases to reduce the amount of pesticide exposure, in a budget-friendly manner.
American Heart Association recently updated its “Life’s Simple 7 to Life’s Essential 8” to include sleep (https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/lifes-essential-8).
Heart disease facts: https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm
American Heart Association 2022 Heart Disease and Stroke statistics: https://professional.heart.org/en/science-news/-/media/8D840F1AA88D423888ED3BA96DD61010.ashx