Healthy Heart Miracle: Your Roadmap to Lifelong Healthby Gabe, M.D. Mirkin M.D., Diana Mirkin
For those hoping to reduce their risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes, The Healthy Heart Miracle offers a simple, 8–week plan that works or without cholesterol or blood pressure–lowering drugs. Dr. Mirkin's SHOW ME! Diet dramatically improves blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, and his DASH Plus program offers a whole–grain
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For those hoping to reduce their risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes, The Healthy Heart Miracle offers a simple, 8–week plan that works or without cholesterol or blood pressure–lowering drugs. Dr. Mirkin's SHOW ME! Diet dramatically improves blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, and his DASH Plus program offers a whole–grain, high–vegetable regimen that includes easy–to–follow menus and 50 recipes. The exercise plrogram Dr. Mirkin has devised accomodates differing levels of fitness and is geared toward today's hectic, time–strapped lives.
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The Healthy Heart Miracle
Your Roadmap to Lifelong Health
What's Your Risk?
A healthy heart and a strong, lean body go together. If you gain weight over the years or become less fit, you increase your risk for a heart attack, stroke, and other heart-health problems. Heart disease is the number one killer in North America -- for both men and women. Your risk soars if you are obese, diabetic, or have high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Your doctor may already have warned you that you have one or more risk factors for a heart attack or stroke. My 8-Week Plan will show you how to reduce your risk and increase your chances to live a long, healthful life. But first you need to understand your heart-health status and know what questions to ask your doctor. Call and ask your doctor to order the following tests (or ask for copies of the results, if you have had these tests done recently):
HDL and LDL cholesterol (Lipid Panel)
C-Reactive Protein (CRP)
Hemoglobin A1C (HBA1C)
If your health insurance doesn't cover some or all of these tests, I think it is worthwhile to cover the cost yourself. Many labs provide the service directly to consumers, but they recommend that you check with your doctor to help you interpret the results.
WHILE YOU'RE TALKING TO YOUR DOCTOR, GET CLEARANCE TO START AN EXERCISE PROGRAM OR TO PICK UP THE PACE OF YOUR CURRENT PROGRAM. When you get your test results, enter them in the Before and After Progress Worksheet on page 250. I'll explain more about what these tests mean in Week 2.
If you are overweight, you probably know it already, and your doctor has probably warned you about the dangers. Before you start my 8-Week Plan, use these three simple measures to see whether you should be concerned about excess weight. You will use this information along with your blood test results to map out a personal heart-health plan.
- Your Body Mass Index (BMI)
- Your Waist/Hip Ratio -- to determine whether you're an "apple" or a "pear"
- The "Inch of Pinch" test
Muscle weighs more than fat, and some people have larger, heavier bones than others. You can be heavy and perfectly healthy if a large percentage of your weight is in bone and muscle. However, if a high percentage of your weight is fat, you are at increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, some types of cancer, and other health problems.
What's Your BMI?
The BMI (Body Mass Index) is a standard calculation used by doctors and nutritionists to determine if your weight is appropriate for your height. To use the chart:
- Locate your height in the left column.
- Follow the row across until you find the weight closest to your weight.
- The number at the top of that column is your BMI.
If your BMI is 30 or higher, your risk of death from any cause is increased by 50 to 150 percent. If you are overweight, resolve right now to lose the extra pounds, which will help to reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and many ther health problems. The 8-Week Plan will get you off to a good start.
Record your result on your Before and After Progress Worksheet in the Worksheet section. A healthy weight is an index of 19 to 25, moderately overweight is an index of 26 to 29, and severely overweight is an index higher than 30. Don't use this index if you are pregnant or nursing. If you are a serious athlete, have large muscles, or large bones, see the "Inch of Pinch" test below.
Are You An "Apple" or a "Pear"?
Some people store fat primarily in the belly area and are called apple shaped, while those who store fat primarily on their hips are called pear shaped. Storing fat primarily in your belly area rather than on your hips increases your chances of suffering heart attacks and diabetes. When you take in more calories than your body needs, your liver turns them into fat. Fat cells stored around your belly are different from those stored on your hips. The blood that flows from belly fat goes directly to your liver, whereas the blood that flows from your hips goes into your general circulation. The livers of people who store fat in their belly area are blocked from removing insulin by the extra fat and therefore don't remove insulin from the bloodstream as effectively as the livers of people who store fat on their hips. So "apples" tend to have higher levels of blood insulin and sugar. You need insulin to drive energy-giving sugar from your bloodstream into your cells. But insulin also lowers blood levels of HDL, the good cholesterol, which prevents heart attacks, and raises blood levels of harmful triglycerides, which cause heart attacks. I'll explain more about the risks of belly fat in Week 3.
Your Waist/Hip Ratio is calculated by dividing your waist size by your hip size. Use a measuring tape to measure your hips at the widest part of your buttocks. Then measure your waist where it is smallest, usually just above the belly button. Then divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement. Record the result on your Before and After Progress Worksheet. Women should have a ratio of 0.8 or lower; men should have a ratio no higher than 1.0. If your ratio is higher than these ideals, you are an "apple" with excess fat stored around your abdomen.The Healthy Heart Miracle
Your Roadmap to Lifelong Health. Copyright © by Gabe Mirkin. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Meet the Author
Gabe Mirkin, M.D., a practicing physician for 40 years, is board-certified in four specialties and is an associate professor at the Georgetown University School of Medicine. A pioneer in the fitness movement and host of a medical talk show for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is the author of eight books, including the bestselling The Sportsmedicine Book, and numerous scientific articles and textbook chapters.
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