Have you checked out out new St. Joe’s Radio? CLICK HERE to see what we are doing!
Here is the article version of the podcast from Dr. Scott Deron, cardiologist here at St. Joe’s. Enjoy!
You can listen to this show at St. Joe’s Radio.
When it comes to keeping your heart healthy, there are many factors. Perhaps one of the biggest factors is stress. Life today takes place in a fast-paced world; one where it’s hard to slow down long enough to enjoy the special moments.
But, taking that time is absolutely essential. Not only does slowing down help you feel good, but it makes your heart feel better as well. In fact, paying close attention to what makes your heart soar or brings it down can be very important.
At the Mind-Body Medicine Institute at Harvard, Dr. Scott Deron, DO, a board-certified cardiologist and fellow of the American College of Cardiology, studied the underpinnings and physiological changes that can happen with stress. In a close call for an auto accident for example, your heart is pounding, your mouth is dry, and your sympathetic nervous system lights up. “Throughout the day,” explains Dr.Deron, “we may encounter several situations similar to this, though not on the same scale.”
Dr. Deron cites the 2004 Interheart study published in Lancet for inspiring him to delve deeper into stress-related matters. The study looked at a large amount of patients scattered across 52 countries and closely examined non-modifiable and modifiable risk factors. Results strongly suggested that approximately 90 percent of all risks for progressive heart disease are things under our control and linked to decisions we make on a daily basis. Heart disease is a frequent killer well before the average life expectancy, so what leads one to make decisions that can cause heart disease?
“The only thing we can hold in our hand is the present moment, and one of the things that mindfulness intervention says is to simply slow down and breathe,” says Dr. Deron. Being mindful of the things that cause extra stress, and doing what you can to reduce or eliminate that stress can certainly improve your heart health.
One of the things Dr. Deron asks his patients to do is to designate a “worry tree” where they live. You can use a charm or a necklace, and at the end of the day, before you go inside your home, place the charm or necklace on the tree and have it represent all of the stress you endured throughout the day. In a way, it can help you realize that you do not need to live with all of your problems, and it can get your body to a healthier, more solid place.
The four senses Dr. Deron recommends you focus on are perspective, humor, wonder, and purpose. Keeping these in mind, you can determine if that stressor of your day has truly affected the fabric of your life that much.
When it comes to medication, Dr. Deron is a strong advocate for the “meditation over medication” mindset. “The best pill is no pill,” according to Dr. Deron, “unless there is robust science showing that there will be some benefit from taking it.”
Even a simple walking or exercise program can help you better connect to the present moment and enjoy the people and places around you. Dr. Deron advises to aim for at least ten thousand steps each day, as well as eat nutritious, whole foods that will keep you full and energized.
When you start to make all of these approaches daily habits, you are doing an incredible thing for your heart health, as well as your overall health and well-being.