American Heart Month

5 Simple Steps to Fight Heart Disease


February is American Heart Month

Capital Cardiology Associates has teamed up with the American Heart Association to encourage Capital Region residents to make one heart healthy change this month

This year marks the 54th American Heart Month. On December 30, 1963, President Johnson signed a proclamation, establishing the month of February as a way to remind Americans to focus on their heart health and encourage their families, friends, and communities to build a culture of healthy living. In 1963, more than half of the deaths in the United States were caused by cardiovascular disease.

Today heart disease is the number one cause of death in our country. One of the biggest contributors to this statistic is the lack of commitment to a heart healthy lifestyle. Capital Cardiology Associates has teamed up with the American Heart Association to urge Capital Region residents to join the movement; make one change in your diet or lifestyle this month to fight heart disease for life.

To help we have identified five simple steps you can take that will have a lasting effect on your heart’s health.

Eat Smart

The easiest path to a heart healthy diet is to avoid junk food. Not having a prepared meal, not having enough protein in your diet, or “boredom” are reasons we hit up the drive thru line, snack machine for candy bar, or include a bag of chips when we sit down to watch TV. Healthy eating starts at home, this includes planning your family meals before grocery shopping, balancing your ingredients throughout the day, and keeping your kitchen stocked with healthy snack options (fruits, vegetables, grains, and proteins).

The American Heart Association has a East Smart webpage loaded with recipes, tips, tricks and hacks to help!

Add Color

Aim to include fruits and vegetables to your snacks and meals. Nutrient rich “color” can be canned, dried, fresh, or frozen and there are a ton of ways to “sneak” or add these colors to your plate. One myth about healthy eating is that is expensive: many fruits and veggies cost less than $1 per serving. Cooking with fruits and vegetables brings out natural flavors and sweetness, allowing you to cut back on salt or sugar sauces.

Need help with ideas on how to add more color to your meals? Check out the videos and recipes from the American Heart Association!

Move More

Do you have a daily goal of activity or exercise? The American Heart Association recommends we try to have at least 150 minutes of activity a week. Years ago we were urged to “take the stairs” at work. Would you believe that walking up and down just ONE flight of stairs burns almost 10 calories? In contrast, standing in the elevator burns about 1 or 2 calories. Today, with new wearable fitness gadgets or our smartphones, we can track our progress throughout the day. Your phone can also be used to track your steps or measure your movement, keeping you active and accountable to your goals.

Taking the stairs, going for walks around the building during work, or just remembering to stand and move for a few minutes every hour — they may seem small compared to a workout or fitness class but committing time to be active everyday can change your life.

The American Heart Association’s Move More page is loaded with everything from what to wear, how to stay active, and advice on making every move count.

Know Your Numbers

The American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology, and nine other groups redefined high blood pressure guidelines in 2017. These new numbers, as explained by Capital Cardiology Associates, Dr. Lance Sullenberger, “lowered what was considered to be a top normal blood pressure from 140 over 90 to 130 over 80. Readings between the 130 to 140 range for the top number, 80 to 90 for the bottom number, were previously considered to be normal but now are indicative of needing medical therapy. The reason this important is because controlling blood pressure is key in long term prevention of stroke, heart failure, and kidney failure.”

Several local pharmacy chains like CVS and Walgreens offer free blood pressure testing machines. Regular tests with your doctor should be included in your appointments. Make sure you know your numbers and follow your doctors advice on how to stay in your target range.

Be Well

When was the last time you got a good night’s sleep? Getting quality sleep not only recharges your batteries, but it’s key in keeping your diet on track, your mood in line, as well has helping with your memory and reducing stress levels. The easiest way to make sure you get enough sleep is by setting a bedtime.

Apple introduced the Bedtime feature on the iPhone in 2016. Bedtime lets you pick your ideal time to go to sleep and a time to wake-up, along with monitoring how well you slept through the night. It provides graphs in the morning and adds this data to the Health app so that you can see your habits over time.

Whether you use your phone, set your TV to sleep, or have your parter or spouse remind you at night: consistency is the key. Try putting yourself on a regular sleep schedule and see how it makes you feel.

Getting better sleep, self-care, rest and relaxation and more wait for you on the American Heart Association’s Be Well resource page.

Eat Smart, Add Color, Move More, Know Your Numbers, and Be Well — one change in your lifestyle in these areas during American Heart Month will have a lasting effect on your heart’s health for years. Want inspiration and motivation sent your inbox? Sign up to Join the Movement from the American Heart Association.

Good luck this month, and here’s to a healthy heart for life!

Get more heart healthy tips from Capital Cardiology Associates

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Written by: Michael Arce, Social Media Specialist, Capital Cardiology Associates.

Photo credit: Photo by Freepik

New Year, New You

Keeping your New Year’s resolution

Experts agree that people make resolutions with the best of intentions, but often inadvertently set themselves up for failure.

Congratulations on finishing the first week of 2018. How is your resolution going this year?

To set yourself up for success: Write down your goals, share them with someone to help keep yourself accountable, and make sure they are as specific and achievable as possible. The most important thing: making sure your goals are reasonable.

Here are five small, meaningful changes you could think about making.

Eat mindfully.
The idea behind mindful eating is pretty basic: If you take the time to truly savor what you are eating, without distractions, then your body will tell you when you’re full and what it’s craving. The hope is that mindful eating can lead you to a balanced, healthy diet that also includes your favorite treats.

Go to sleep – and wake up – at the same time.
Many times we focus on getting enough sleep, which is important, by doing so we overlook setting a sleeping pattern or bedtime routine. One tool to help set that routine is your smartphone. Apple introduced the Bedtime feature on the iPhone last year. Bedtime lets you pick your ideal time to go to sleep and a time to wake-up and it will monitor how well you slept through the night. It provides graphs in the morning and adds this data to the Health app so you can see your habits over time.

Whether you use your phone, set your TV to sleep, or have your parter or spouse remind you at night: consistency is the key. Try putting yourself on a regular sleep schedule and see how it makes you feel.

Find activity that will help you achieve your goals.
First, narrow down what it is you want to achieve each day, whether that’s getting stronger, increasing flexibility, or burning fat. Then find activity that is aligned with your goals – and that you enjoy, so you’re more likely to make a habit of making time to move.

Cut down on sugar.
The average American consumes over 77 pounds of sugar or sweetener each year, even though eating too much of it increases your risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Think about evaluating how much sugar you consume, and if it’s a lot, take steps to cut back a bit.

Drink a bit more water.
If you want to up your water intake, try keeping a water bottle at your desk, drinking a glass before starting each meal, or sipping some H20 when you’re feeling hungry (experts say that we often confuse hunger and thirst).

Lack of accountability is one of the major reasons we let resolutions or goals slide. Make sure that when you commit to a goal or lifestyle change that you share that with a friend or family member who will challenge you to keep making progress. Make this the year that YOU achieve YOUR goals!

Patient Education

Learn more about cardiac conditions, procedures and treatments with our Patient Education videos and materials.

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Written by: Michael Arce, Social Media Specialist, Capital Cardiology Associates.

A Heart Healthy New Year

A Heart Healthy New Year

Resolve to start 2018 with a healthy heart

Five easy, heart healthy resolutions from the American Heart Association that fits every lifestyle

Happy New Year from Capital Cardiology Associates! This year, join us in resolving to make one change toward a healthy heart. We found five easy resolutions you can make in 2018.

Drink More Water

The 8x8 rule should be your guide: the average adult should drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. While that seems like a lot of water, keep in mind that coffee in the morning, iced tea at lunch, or a cup of tea in the afternoon — are all sources of water. The goal is to steer clear of soda or other sweetened beverages that are loaded with sugars.

Keeping a measured water bottle for work helps with hitting your water intake goal during the day. Your smartphone can also help track your water goals with apps like Daily Water for iPhones or Water Drink Reminder for Android.

Go Green

Fresh, frozen, even canned (in a pinch) vegetables pack many health benefits. The goal is to consume between five and 13 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. The trick is, “sneaking” those nutrient rich veggies into our daily meals to reach the recommended servings.

Whether it’s an apple with peanut butter as a midday snack, adding fresh bananas or blueberries to our breakfast cereal or oatmeal, or enjoying a handful of strawberries with yogurt in the afternoon, you can add “raw” fruits to your daily diet. For those who like creative dishes, there are plenty of ideas on how to incorporate greens into your snacks and meals!

Read 40 ways to sneak veggies into any meal without sacrificing flavor.

Eat Seasonally

Good for your budget and waistline, eating seasonally means you are getting food at it’s peak performance and flavor level. Additionally, you’ll be supporting your local community and farmers, which is always a great resolution as well. Click on the links below to see what is “fresh” at our area Farmers’ Markets.

Saratoga Farmers’ Market
Schenectady Greenmarket
Troy Waterfront Farmers’ Market
Other Capital Region Farmers’ Markets

Cut Out Processed Food

Decide that 2018 is going to be the year you say no to aspartame, high fructose corn syrup, and hydrogenated oil. In addition to chemicals you’re body doesn’t need or want, processed foods are full of added salt. Higher salt intake puts you at risk for high blood pressure. In fact, 75 percent of the salt in the average American diet comes from salt added to processed food and restaurant food, according to the American Heart Association.

Eat More Fiber

Fiber helps with weight loss, may lower cholesterol levels, in addition to lowering your risk of diabetes and reducing the risk of heart disease. The other good thing about Fiber: it’s easy to add to your diet! Whole grains are filled with fiber, which makes digestion easier and helps you feel fuller when you’re done eating – both key factors in weight management.

Continue Reading

Learn more about cardiac conditions, procedures and treatments with our Patient Education videos and materials.

Written by: Michael Arce, Social Media Specialist, Capital Cardiology Associates.

A Healthy Holiday Heart

A Healthy Holiday Heart

Building a success plan to stay heart healthy this Holiday season

Studies show that on average, we gain about five pounds from Thanksgiving to Christmas. The Holidays bring changes in what we eat (drinks, food, and treats) as well as changes in our activity and stress levels.

For heart disease patient, the changes in our diet and exercise routines Holidays can be life-threatening. The temptations to overindulge, the risk of overexertion from stressing about shopping or snow shoveling can elevate heart-related issues.

To avoid holiday health issues, we recommend that you follow these goals from the American Heart Association.

Make a holiday “health” plan

For example, you could commit to having a heart healthy lunch each day, combing your green vegetables with a protein like chicken or steak, or aim to be active for 30 minutes everyday with a short walk around your neighborhood or office. Make time to relax by reading a book, listening to soft music, or having a conversation for 30 minutes each evening.

Watch overindulgence

Be strict on your portion sizes. A small slice of pie isn’t going to ruin your diet, but more than one stops at the dessert table will! Particularly limit the amounts of foods you consume that are heavy in cream, sugar or salt, and never go back for seconds. A good plan to tackle over eating before parties or gatherings is to have a high-protein snack like a handful of almonds, a cup of nonfat yogurt or apple with peanut butter.

Moderate your alcohol intake

The American Heart Association recommends no more than two alcoholic beverages a day for men and one for women. Hold yourself to these limits, using sparkling water or seltzer as an option when beverages loaded with alcohol sugar are being served.

Manage stress

Easy said than done, right? Studies show that individuals experiencing stress for extended periods are more likely to have heart disease and die from a cardiovascular condition. Stress often causes us to fall back in bad behavior patters like smoking more, drinking more alcohol and make poor eating choices more often in an attempt to cope.

Mentally prepare yourself for stressful people or situations, have a plan with your partner or spouse on how to limit your exposure to these moments, and if needed, leave the room to get fresh air, chew gum, or take time to calm your mind.

Avoid overexertion

Winter activities such as shoveling snow can be extremely strenuous on your heart. And when you’re home during the holidays, or preparing your home for visitors, you are likely to engage in these activities more often than usual.

Let those who offer help to assist you with household chores or entertaining. Make sure you take frequent breaks to give your heart a chance to rest. And most importantly — know the warning signs of a heart attack which include chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea and cold sweats. If you experience these symptoms, get emergency help immediately. Do not wait for the symptoms to subside or the pain to go away.

On behalf of the board-certified cardiologists and staff of Capital Cardiology Associates, we wish you a safe, Happy Holiday season and New Year!

Written by: Michael Arce, Social Media Specialist, Capital Cardiology Associates.

Inspiring Women

Inspiring Women

Behind the Scenes: Inspiring Women of the Capital Region

Meet Drs. Phelan and DeTommasi

The unique friendship and common bond two cardiologists share in the Capital Region

This month, Capital Cardiology Associates has been proud to sponsor WTEN’s “20 Inspiring Women of the Capital Region.” Each weekday we are introduced to a woman in our community that are difference makers, recognized for their contributions and impact. Our sponsorship commercial features two inspiring women and their team from Capital Cardiology Associates; Drs. Allison DeTommasi and Donna Phelan.

It became very clear within minutes of our production filming that Drs. DeTommasi and Phelan share a special connection. “I’ve known Dr. Pheland from medical school… we basically grew up together,” Dr. DeTommasi shared. “We met in medical school and have been close friends ever since,” added Phelan. “It’s wonderful to have a partner in this profession that you can talk to and have commonality with.”

Their stories however, have quite different beginnings

“My father was a psychiatrist who also taught, my mother was a nurse. They met at Albany Med,” DeTommasi recounted. Dr. DeTommasi is proud to call the Capital Region home. She graduated from Union College, attended Albany Medical College, and was the “second female to graduate the Albany Medical Center fellowship program, Donna (Dr. Phelan) was the third.”

Dr. Phelan, “grew up in California, came here for medical school and fell in love with the Northeast. I met my husband and we decided to stay here and raise our family here.” She always enjoyed math and science as a child. “My parents instilled a very deep desire to pursue and a great deal of importance in education when I was young. My mother worked full-time and instilled the desire and love to do a greater good for humanity.”

The balance of career and family

Both doctors are also busy mothers. Dr. DeTommasi has an 11-year old son, Dr. Phelan three children. Both mothers acknowledge the daily challenge of being a professional and a parent. “Raising children takes a lot of time. A career in medicine is demanding, especially a line of medicine like cardiology where emergencies happen 24 hours a day. When we are on call, we are summoned in. I have been asked by my children several times why I have to go into the hospital in the middle of the night or why I can’t make it every one of their games. It’s a struggle but my children have seen the value in the path that I have chosen,” said Phelan. Dr. DeTommasi shares similar advice. “Young girls come to me often, I try to mentor them and tell them that you really have to love this. You have to be able to compromise in life to practice medicine. There is compromise with family, your immediate family and then later with your children. We take calls when we are not home. You have to absolutely love what you do.”

One topic that came up during our conversation was women in medicine. Both doctors are excited to see more women follow the journey they began together at medical school. As Dr. Phelan commented, “I really value the fact that so many schools are placing a emphasis on science and math, especially with girls. Its wonderful now that so many young women are choosing to pursue professions in medicine as opposed to even fifteen or twenty years ago when Dr. DeTommasi and I chose this path. The proportion of young women going in to medicine has escalated tremendously and there is great value in that.”

Written by: Michael Arce, Social Media Specialist, Capital Cardiology Associates. Commercial director: Daniel Perretta, Commercial Production Manager, WTEN-TV.

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