When it comes to heart health, emotions are among the least appreciated, in part because there is no simple test that measures our day-to-day stressors. Yet one thing is (crystal) clear, not managing stress effectively will promote heart disease.
To understand the science of emotions, recent studies have found that optimism is associated with an approximate 25% reduced risk of heart disease. Positive people are also at lower risk of stroke, have fewer heart-related hospitalizations and better quality of life.
Even if you are not an optimistic person by nature, you can learn some important tools to keep your proverbial glass 1/2 full:
- Be proactive about your health: Optimists are more likely to engage in healthier lifestyle behaviors that includes not smoking, engaging in exercise and eating healthier diets than pessimists. This may also explain why optimists tend to have lower levels of inflammation and reduced risk of infections, including the flu, compared to pessimists.
- Build social connections: Optimists tend to be sociable and by forming solid bonds protects against loneliness and depression that can set in later in life.
- Don’t be a hypochondriac: Hypochondriacs often have a pessimistic view of their health; it turns out that Swedish men who overly obsessed about having poor health were 3-fold more likely to die than those with an optimistic outlook.Dr. Michael Miller is Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and optimistic about his latest book: “Heal Your Heart: The Positive Emotions Prescription to Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease”
Three days ago I was returning home on American Airlines (AA) after attending an American Heart Association Meeting when I received an email from AA. They had found a laptop and sent me the following message:
We have found a laptop inside a black bag and your business card was inside the pocket. Please let us know if this laptop belongs to you? And please provide more information of the laptop. Like what kind of laptop, brand, serial number or passcode. If you have any question feel free to contact our Lost and Found (305)526-1979 we are open from 6am to 10pm 7 days a week.
Lost and Found
Fortunately, I had my laptop so obviously someone else is missing theirs. The only clue AA shared is that it contained the early version of my “Heal Your Heart” business card (see above). If you know anyone who may have lost their laptop last week on AA, have them contact the airlines directly. Case Number is 7516840.
Please share this info…I will also promote it on Facebook today to get the word out …Thanks!
More than 400 million worldwide have diabetes representing a doubling of cases over the past 30 years. At the current rate, 1 in 3 young men and women born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes, thereby increasing their risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and loss of limb. While genetics and lifestyle (such as physical inactivity) play a role, here are 3 surprising ways to help stave off this debilitating disease.
- Keep your Triglycerides Low: Triglycerides are blood fats and if not effectively processed accumulate in muscle, leading to insulin resistance. An optimal triglyceride level (less than 100 mg/dL or ~1 mmol/L) is associated with a 50% lower risk of diabetes compared to levels of 200 mg/dL or higher.
- Walk Briskly 30 minutes a day: Walking at a brisk pace (15-20 minutes per mile) will not only help to keep triglycerides low but also reduces your risk of diabetes ~30%.
- Tone your Muscles Twice a week: Combining a program of brisk walking 30 minutes a day with muscle toning through mild weight training and conditioning (yoga) was associated with a 66% lower risk of diabetes in women.
Dr. Michael Miller is a cardiologist and Professor of Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Check out his latest book “Heal Your Heart: The Positive Emotions Prescription to Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease” with all proceeds donated to the American Heart Association.
Prolonged sleep deprivation, defined as less than 6 hours of restful sleep per night, is associated with deterioration of overall health including a 2-fold higher risk of death from a heart attack or stroke when accompanied by the metabolic syndrome. In my University-based practice, sleep deprivation is among the most commonly under-reported complaints that I receive…and it’s only because I specifically ask about it. Ironically, patients are often not aware that their lower energy levels and reduced ability to concentrate may stem from poor sleeping habits. So here are several recommendations to help you sleep like a baby!
- Get into the “mindset” of a baby…after all, a reason babies sleep so well is that they have no worries. While this may be easier said than done, a new study finds that writing down your tasks for the next day will produce a better night’s sleep. Why? Because preparation reduces anxiety, a prime reason for poor sleep habits.
- Don’t watch the news before bed….I take that back, but just watch the final segment only because that is the most light hearted and the only relaxing segment. (In other words, they beat us up for most of the hour and then throw us a bone for the last few minutes).
- Don’t count sheep, count waves (or other images that relax you). It works!
Dr. Michael Miller is Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. For many more tips to help you get a better night sleep, check out Dr. Miller’s book, “Heal Your Heart: The Positive Emotions Prescription to Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease“ published by Penguin Random House.
Having dedicated a chapter to relationships in “Heal your Heart”, and then reading about the squabbles and frustrations of husbands and wives, I thought I would weigh in on my 25 year experience as a cardiologist (not as a marriage counselor).
Bottom Line: A happy marriage is important to your heart because protective chemicals that improve blood flow, lower blood pressure and even repair damaged cells are released during hugging, kissing and other intimate activities.
On the other hand, when marriages falter, the risk of cardiovascular events increases. For example, recent studies show that progressive lack of intimacy- an early sign of a troubled marriage- raises the risk of stroke in women and heart attacks in men.
So as we begin a New Year, here are several tips that I recommend to my patients who want to maintain a happy/healthy heart and marriage.
- For men: physical issues, such as ED…common with diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and certain medications, should be evaluated by your physician . Don’t deny it- take care of it.
- For Women: we may be stubborn and hardheaded but underneath is a relatively simple, softhearted guy with needs, including striving to make his partner happy.
- For Men: always express gratitude and help out to lighten her burden. It will work wonders and help to keep your marriage happy/healthy and young at heart.
BONUS: from my 101 year old father-in-law:
For Men: “please the wife”
For Women: “count slowly to 10 before you smack ’em”
Dr. Michael Miller is Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. His publications include 250 scientific articles and 20,000 citations.