We all know that eating loads of saturated fat and leading a sedentary
lifestyle can be damaging to our hearts, but today's supercharged lifestyle
replete with BlackBerries, cell phones, sky-high mortgage payments, and
seven-day work weeks can also wreak havoc on our hearts.
WebMD spoke with Mimi Guarneri, MD, the founder and medical director of the
Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine in La
Jolla, Calif., and the author of The Heart Speaks: A Cardiologist Reveals
the Secret Language of Healing, to find out how modern life affects our heart health and what we can do
about it before it's too late.
"I tell my kids, a locked door in the morning means Mom and Dad are having
time together. And sometimes my husband and I schedule to take time off when
the kids are at school just to share some special moments; then we really steam
things up!" — A.L., 46, Columbus, NJ
"When my son was young, he hated naps, so we'd let him play in his room while
Mom and Dad 'took a nap.' He never knew what we really did." — J.Y., 53,
"My husband and I set our alarm early and make love before...
What aspects of modern life are bad for our hearts?
Everything. The new definition of normal is going to work every day in a car
that is not paid for so you can pay for the house that you never get to use
because you are always at work. We are stressed out to say the least. Not to be
doom and gloom, but this so-called modern life is not conducive to health.
Today, people are so focused on mergers and acquisitions and the accumulation
of things that the question becomes when is enough, enough. Sometimes our body
has to put the brakes on for us with a big heart attack.
How is having a BlackBerry bad for the heart?
Today there is constant bombardment with emails, faxes, and
BlackBerries. It's nonstop. We are forced to make split-second decisions
because we don't have time to think. It's extremely stressful and as a result,
we are flooded with stress hormones. The release of
stress hormones like adrenalin and cortisol can increase the risk of having a
That's scary. What can we do to prevent this from happening?
Start by thinking about the heart physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Physical care involves choosing the right foods and exercising. That's the easy part.
The emotional aspect involves asking yourself if you are stressed, depressed,
anxious, or angry. And the deeper, spiritual issue is asking yourself 'who am I
[and] what is my purpose?'
If eating right and exercising is the easy part, why don't people do it?
People know how to eat and they know they need to exercise, but they are
making poor choices mostly driven by stress and depression. They think: 'I am
depressed, so why exercise?' Or: 'I am stressed, so I will have four
Do cholesterol and blood pressure still count?
Yes, but it's not just enough to know your total cholesterol numbers. We want to
know much more advanced things, such as what kind of good or bad cholesterol
and whether or not certain inflammatory blood markers are elevated. We also
want to know if this person is stressed, angry, or depressed and how they are
living their life.