Belmont Village Senior Living, partnering with Baptist Health South Florida and Chief Cardiologist Jonathan Fialkow (M.D., FACC, FAHAD), presented a webinar entitled “Prevention Strategy: Top 10 Tools to Prevent Heart Disease.” Dr. Fialkow is the Chief of Cardiology at Baptist Health’s Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute and is nationally recognized for his research on preventive heart care.
“Enjoy a few romantic dark chocolates and celebrate Valentine’s Day,” Dr. Fialkow advised, explaining that cardiovascular disease (CVD) takes years to manifest into Type-2 diabetes, stroke or heart attack. “Take a long-term healthy approach to living. Don’t stress about eating a few chocolates but do incorporate heart-healthy lifestyle choices in your everyday routine.”
Refined sugar is a leading contributor to the dramatic increase in cardiovascular disease and diabetes in the U.S, says Dr. Fialkow. Sugar triggers insulin, a hormone that regulates the metabolism. Too much sugar causes insulin resistance, which means the body cannot process the sugar into glucose quickly enough, so instead, the excess gets stored as fat. Insulin resistance leads to obesity and inflammation, which in turn may cause the body to develop autoimmune diseases, diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.
“Sugar seems to be a factor in unhealthy lifestyle choices and ultimately attributes to chronic disease,” the doctor pointed out. “Let’s start with what you shouldn’t eat: don’t eat sugar in excess, certainly in the form of table sugar.” To illustrate his points, Dr. Fialkow compared photos of obese people from 100 years ago to today, along with data and graphs that indicated obesity rates in people across the world, especially over the last 30 years. “Something’s changed,” he said. “There’s something different about our society, our lifestyle, that’s providing for this epidemic of diabetes and obesity.”
CDC and World Health Organization statistics confirm that heart disease remains the leading cause of death for both men and women, by more than double the rate of the second most common cause of death: cancer.
Dr. Fialkow explains that heart disease occurs when “the heart doesn’t get enough nutrient-rich blood because the arteries become clogged and inflamed in a precursor condition known as atherosclerosis.” He says this can become dangerous, as “arteries can rip open or harden as substances from the blood build up in the artery wall, causing blockages that ultimately result in a heart attack.”
Dr. Fialkow’s 10 Tools include smoking cessation, daily exercise, regular consumption of vegetables and Omega-3 oils from fish like salmon, and nutritious, fiber-rich fruits over fruit juices. Dr. Fialkow reminded participants to get enough sleep and vitamin D, key factors that help combat cardiovascular disease and improve health when consistently practiced. Lifestyle and medications reverse cardiovascular and other health outcomes but, “there is no quick fix,” said Dr. Fialkow.
The webinar ended on a high note in a Q&A led by Belmont Village CEO and Founder Patricia Will, stating, “Partnerships like the one we have with Baptist Health at Coral Gables illustrate our purpose of reaching into the communities we serve and creating an environment focused on total wellness and continued education.” The partnership is about bringing people together in the spirit of longevity and wellness. “Our unique partnership to create senior housing with Baptist Health in Coral Gables helps us do just that, with a focus on every aspect of living healthy,” adds Will.