Guest: Dr. Robert Vogel
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: Dr. Robert Vogel, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado Denver, co-author of The Pritikin Edge, and active advocate for Pritikin ICR.
Segment overview: Dr. Robert Vogel, cardiologist and co-author of “The Pritikin Edge”, and active advocate for Pritikin Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation (ICR), talks about the ‘silent’ heart attack.
Health Professional Radio – Silent Heart Attack
Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to the program. I’m your host here on Health Professional Radio, glad that you could join us today. Very few Americans lead heart healthy lifestyles, our guest in studio is Dr. Robert Vogel, Cardiologist and Co-Author of The Pritikin Edge, Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado in Denver. Additionally he spent 14 years as Director of Cardiology at the University of Maryland and was past President of the Association of University Cardiologist. He’s with us in studio today to talk about a healthy lifestyle as it relates to heart health. Welcome to the program.
Dr. Robert Vogel: Very nice to be with you Neal.
N: As I said a few Americans, we don’t lead healthy lifestyles, let alone heart healthy lifestyles. A recent study by the Mayo Clinic proceedings released back in March found that less than 3% of Americans are living a healthy lifestyle. So basically nobody in the neighborhood is living a healthy lifestyle, would you agree with that statement?
V: Yeah, absolutely. Ninety percent of heart disease which is a number one killer of human beings on earth and a great deal of cancer is preventable by leading a better lifestyle. That’s diet and exercise, not smoking, stress reduction, those sorts of things. So lifestyle is critical, if you have a new car you put a reasonable grade of gasoline in it, you wouldn’t put diesel oil in a gasoline car and yet most of us do not eat well, we don’t get enough exercise, too many of us smoke, etc. and that’s killing us quite early.
N: Is there a work around safe or sugar is everywhere, I can’t think of anything that processed sugar isn’t included and this processed food that seems to be everywhere. I mean it’s very convenient, often tasty but on a scale of one to ten, ten being as healthy as it can be and one being absolutely trash, where would you put ultra-processed food as it relates to heart health?
V: It’s trash. I’m glad that you started with sugar because we often think that the most important part of a healthy diet is not getting enough, it’s eating too much fat or eating too much salt. So it’s really for Americans today it’s eating too much sugar, when this culture was founded 200 years ago we were eating about 4 pounds of sugar per year per person. We’re now eating a hundred and fifty pounds of sugar per person in the United States per year and our teenagers are eating 250 pounds of sugar per person per year, an unbelievable amount of sugar and sugar leads to diabetes and sugar leads to high blood pressure and sugar leads to obesity. So it is our number one problem from a dietary point of view right now.
N: Now you’re the Author of The Pritikin Edge, talk about The Pritikin Edge and does this book address this sugar consumption problem that we have?
V: Yes. The Pritikin is a lifestyle program and it addresses diet, exercise, smoking cessation, etc. and the Pritikin Edge…about 8 years ago we outline how individuals can solve a healthy lifestyle starting with diet and one of the things that is critical is that whatever carbohydrate you’re eating and we all need and should take in carbohydrates, should be what we call complex carbohydrates, it should be whole grain, it should be from fruits and vegetables and it should not be from…and other soft drinks that are just loaded with sugar and the low fat, high sugar treats that are all around the grocery store.
N: Do you find that there are different methods necessary when trying to reverse a person’s poor eating habits? We talked about our teenagers eating almost double in sugar, what our average adult is eating at a hundred and fifty pounds a year, two hundred pounds a year for our teenagers, the mindset is different, their outlook on life is different. How do you approach the conversation when telling someone that the best thing that they need to do for a heart healthy lifestyle is to change based on their age?
V: It’s to set a good example at home. We know that kids are actually the best in changing lifestyle, we older folks are kind of set in our way, we don’t have so when we have heart trouble it’s important that we change but it’s just a…for us. So kids are more malleable and kids are interested in learning about their bodies and learning about their hearts and learning the connection between what they put in their body and how they’re gonna live. So actually I think kids are easier to change and they have to be brought up in a way that shows good healthy food can be tasty and filling and beneficial and so many of the most successful programs had actually started with kids.
N: Let’s talk a bit about the effects of stress on our heart and our lifestyle, I mean we all live stressful lifestyles to some degree. I’m not talking about we’re all pulling our hair out but there are stressors that we encounter on a daily basis. Some of these strong or big stressors obviously play a big role in our heart health. What are some of the effects of stress on the heart?
V: Stress is very important. I want to make it clear, stress is different from being busy, we know that if you’re the president of a corporation, you’re may be very busy or maybe you run a radio station and are very busy but that’s not what stress is. Stress is really not having options, so the individual who’s out of work is actually more stressed than the individual who has a high paying, very busy kind of job. So stress is often not well understand, if you have a busy lifestyle, your kids are running around and all these things, that’s a healthy kind of thing. If you have all different kinds of problems with regards to money, or health, employment, that’s a real stress. So stress in that form then leads to poor eating and often to lack of exercise, blood pressure goes up and cortisol gets secreted and you’re more likely to become a diabetic and heart disease… so stress is very important which should not be confused with being busy.
N: How often do you in your practice recommend some type of counseling in order to deal with some stressors? I mean one person’s stress may not be another person’s stress but once you identify as their care giver that a little bit of mental health might do them some good. How often do you say that that is a part of the lifestyle change?
V: We always say that stress reduction is an important part of lifestyle. It’s diet, it’s exercise, it’s smoking cessation and it’s stress reduction. Those are the pillars of a healthy lifestyle but you make a very good point Neal and that is that how I respond may be different from the way somebody else responds to a particular circumstance. Some people like to be talked in public but some people find that a very stressful, so we all respond differently. I like to fly, I get in an airplane and it’s relaxing to me and I fall asleep, I read a book or whatever. Other people are nervous the whole time they’re up in the air so we all respond differently.
N: You’re a Preventive Cardiology Consultant to the National Football League, do you find that convincing athletes to live a healthy lifestyle, I mean it goes without saying if you’re an athlete you’re living a healthy lifestyle. Are you more focused on the stress, the physical stress in athletes as far as Preventive Cardiology is concerned or are you less likely to start talking about nutrition where they’re getting all that information from other sources?
V: Athletes, even in the NFL encompass a whole spectrum of different kinds of individuals and what’s nice to know is that the lifestyle that the players are now living is quite a bit better than it used to be. Only .5%, 1 in 200 smoke a day compared to over 20% for American average young men. So some of the things that they do, they get more exercise and they generally eat better at the present time. More so one of the kind of life’s tales that football players die at 50 or 60 years of age, actually they don’t, they have reduced mortality and that’s been shown in a number of studies. So some of the things that they do which they get a lot of exercise, that’s very clear and exercise is clearly good for the heart. They are eating a better diet and they don’t smoke and these are things that we really want to connect with preventing heart disease. So some of the things that they do are quite good, some are not when they stop playing football many of them don’t exercise as much as they obviously did. Their weight may go up, some of them lose weight, some of them gained weight so it’s a wide spectrum and we work with the so called players and teach them about the long term healthy lifestyle issues. Many of them now have understand it much better than they used to, so it’s a good group to work with.
N: Absolutely. Great information, very interesting. It’s been great having you here with us today Bob.
V: Thank you Neal, it’s been very nice speaking with you.
N: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard. And we’ve been in studio today with Dr. Robert Vogel, Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado, Denver talking about heart health, leading a healthy lifestyle, the importance of reversing unhealthy habit and some of the stressors that need to be addressed as part of a healthy heart lifestyle. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at healthprofessionalradio.com.au and also at hpr.fm and you can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes.