Shake off family heart problems
Q: Mom, Dad and my grandparents all passed in their early 60s from either heart attacks or strokes. I'm 35 and scared. What can I do to avoid the same fate? — Fred M., Tulsa, Okla.
A: Like Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and his sidekick, Angelica (Penelope Cruz), in "On Stranger Tides," we all are searching for the secret to a long, long life.
Well, we YOU Docs are here to tell you there's no need to take to the high seas in pursuit of the fountain of youth. You can swashbuckle your way to a heart-healthy old age and cut your risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke during the next 20 years by more than 60 percent if you adopt some smart-living steps.
• Don't smoke or hang around people who do.
• Be physically active; walk 10,000 steps a day.
• Keep blood pressure at 115/76: Dr. Mike's numbers are 115/75; Dr. Oz stays around 110/75.
• Keep your triglycerides at 100 or less; HDL at 60 or above; LDL under 100; and hs C-reactive protein (inflammation marker) at 1 or less.
• Keep blood glucose level around 85 in the morning before breakfast.
• Floss regularly and see a dental pro every six months. Maintain a healthy weight, a body mass index of 18.5-24.9.
• Avoid the five food felons: trans fats, saturated fats, added sugars, any syrups and any grain but 100 percent whole grain. If they're in the first five ingredients on a nutritional label (excluding parentheticals), don't eat that food.
• Talk with your doc about taking two baby aspirins every day (drink warm water before and after): for guys 35+; gals 40+.
• Have a buddy to talk or walk with daily.
• Have a hobby or activity you really love.
Although middle-age children of parents with heart disease are more likely to have cardio problems, an unhealthy familial lifestyle is more risky than genetics. (You got a lot more from your mom than your genes — like her meatloaf recipe!)
So put aside your fears and pick up your sneakers; put down that doughnut and pick up an apple; and add some money to your savings account — you are going to have years and years to adventure on the high seas yourself.
Q: I keep trying to quit smoking, and then I get all stressed out and start up again. I need help! — Jean P., St. Louis
A: We YOU Docs are dedicated to helping YOU quit smoking! No ifs, ands and (really) no butts about it. And so is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — they've launched a campaign to make it easier for you to fight the habit. Hats off to them and to the No. 1 non-smoker in the No. 1 high-pressure job in the world: President Barack Obama, who shook the habit about a year ago. (Makes it tough to claim job stress is why you can't quit!)
Unfortunately, more than 43 million North Americans still smoke. But we YOU Docs know YOU can quit! Our YOU Docs quit smoking plan is simple and direct: Start walking (10,000 steps) every day, even before you quit; after 28 days, get a prescription for anti-craving pills, such as bupropion (you'll have a walking habit and be fighting weight gain already!); find a buddy and quit together or enlist a coach; and start using a nicotine patch.
That brings us to the CDC's new campaign. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784- 8669). They offer a free two-week supply of nicotine patches plus free access to a live phone coach. There are also recorded messages, including ones about how to stop, medications, weight control after quitting, withdrawal, staying tobacco-free, stopping during pregnancy and more.
CORRECTION:The CDC quit smoking program and 1-800-QUIT-NOW phone number are not valid in California. Posted Monday, April 9, 2012.
So make a plan, get a patch and dial that phone. If you give up smoking, your RealAge becomes 1 year younger in just two months and three years younger in eight months. And you get younger every year you stay off the smokes.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Medical Officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. Submit your health questions at doctoroz.com.