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New guidelines from the American Heart Association

Dr. Veita Bland / April 5, 2019

The American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) have released new guidelines about prevention of heart disease and for the most part, these organizations are changing their attitude about aspirin. Now they say, it is not prudent to risk the possibility of having a gastric bleed ,the possible result of consuming too many baby aspirin. The AHA and ACC have made many other recommendations during a recent conference that I would like to share.

The AHA and the ACC have been fighting for more than 150 years against heart disease and trying to limit the effects of strokes. These recommendations do just that.

They recommend that you and your doctor or healthcare clinician periodically access what your cardiovascular risk is. Knowing what your risk is and then planning ways to neutralize their affects upon you is essential to good health.

Our old friend, diet is the number two recommendation listed to improve health. You have heard it before but so many are not following this. Your diet should emphasize the intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grains, lean animal protein and fish. It should minimize the intake of processed foods, refined carbohydrates, salt and sweetened beverages (sodas). We should replace saturated fats with poly and mono saturated fats.

For the first time the report states that harm can come from eating and thus you should avoid Trans fats. These new guidelines also recognize the fact that inner city and rural areas may have food deserts and that poverty and the elderly may face challenges in trying to achieve these recommendations.

Another old friend, exercise is back in the picture too. The AHA and the ACC, along with other organizations, promote 150 minutes a week of moderately intense exercise or 75 minutes of vigorously intense exercise per week. It emphasizes improved mobility via activities such as house work and/or gardening can be considered as exercise.

Obesity and its elimination is the next goal listed. Calorie restrictions with the maintenance of weight loss and the addition of counseling can help achieve this goal. Here they also recommended that evaluation of the psychosocial barriers and looking at sleep be included as part of successful weight loss.

Their next target is to lower the cardiovascular risk in those with diabetes. It is now known that it is just not simply about getting the blood sugar numbers down. Diabetics do not die of diabetes, they die of heart disease. Looking at their diet, exercise, cholesterol, blood pressure, weight and making sure they are on the proper medications are the goals. The new meds that lower glucose and decrease cardiovascular risk are great tools to be used in this fight when appropriate.

Smoking cassationis another goal. We need to look at all the tools we have to help people first realize that smoking in any form is harmful to your health. This would include vaping. Then we need to look at ways to help people stop smoking.

It goes without saying that lowering blood pressure and keeping it lowered are means of improving health. One should watch his/her diet, exercise and take the appropriate medications.
The AHA and the ACC have researched ways of improving our health. They also say that based on scientific evidence, we now know that only 10 percent to 20 percent of our health is actually determined by the healthcare we receive. That means that 70 percent to 80 percent is determined by the social determinates of health such as lifestyle, environment and socioeconomic status.

These are indeed ideas for deep thought.

Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wednesdays. Email Dr. Bland at


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