3 ways to protect your heart health with Dr. Jacob DeLaRosa - East Idaho News

3 ways to protect your heart health with Dr. Jacob DeLaRosa

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POCATELLO — A cardiothoracic surgeon said we don’t need to overcomplicate the steps people can take to protect their heart health.

Dr. Jacob DeLaRosa, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Portneuf Medical Center, will speak on Thursday at a free event called The Importance of Heart Health, sponsored by the Wheeler Family Endowment. Attendees will learn practical advice to improve the health of their hearts.

“We’re going to talk about why it’s always so confusing,” DeLaRosa said.

Dr. Benjamin Call, a cardiologist at Portneuf, will also speak and Dr. Warren Willey, a doctor of osteopathic medicine and a published author, will give the keynote speech.

DeLaRosa spoke with EastIdahoNews.com and said there are three main ways people can take steps to either keep the health of their heart up or improve it.

See a doctor regularly

The first step people need to take to improve their heart health is to find a primary care doctor and visit them regularly.

“Get somebody you can trust, somebody you can see, somebody who is going to manage you and take care of you,” DeLaRosa said.

The doctor said this is especially important for people who have a family history of heart disease.

“If your parents had heart disease, you’re probably going to have heart disease, so you have to get checked up,” DeLaRosa said.

But it’s not hopeless. People who go to see a doctor can have problems with their health identified and can take steps to address them.

DeLaRosa said people often get busy with their lives and put off going to see the doctor. He compared this to being in an airplane and not putting on your oxygen mask before you put a mask on anyone else.

“We have to put ourselves first to be able to manage and take care of ourselves before we go and start doing everything else in life,” DeLaRosa said.

The right diet

Finding the right diet in one aspect of heart health that DeLaRosa said gets overcomplicated, often with bad advice.

“Everybody tries to catch how many calories they eat,” DeLaRosa said. “Stop counting your calories.”

Although DeLaRosa said to avoid eating right before bed, he also said you don’t need to monitor when you eat.

“Eat when you’re hungry, but never eat more than the size of both of your closed hands in one sitting,” he said.

When looking for the right diet, DeLaRosa said we can look to areas that are called blue zones, which are regions in the world with longer life expectancies and lower rates of chronic disease.

Some examples of these places are Okinawa, Japan, Sardinia, Italy and Loma Linda, California.

In Okinawa, they commonly eat purple sweet potatoes and rice. In Sardinia, they eat grain, bread and pasta. In Loma Linda, vegetables and grains.

Make exercise a part of your day

DeLaRosa said people can incorporate exercise into their daily life and improve their heart health by doing so.

The doctor recommends that people find a good pair of sneakers and find somewhere to walk.

“It’s the cheapest way of exercising,” he said.

During the winter, DeLaRosa said that people can walk around the mall.

“A lot of people do that, and it’s a great avenue to do it,” DeLaRosa said.

Many people wonder how much they should do when they start walking or jogging, and he said they should do what’s comfortable for them to start.

“If it’s your first time out and you haven’t done it in a long time, go for five minutes. Then go the next day, try a little bit more,” he said.

If you’ve been living a sedentary lifestyle, you start small and make it a part of your routine, and “all of a sudden you’re gonna be at an hour.”

The event will be held at Portneuf Medical Center at the Pebble Creek Conference Room at noon. People who will be in attendance can RSVP by calling (208) 239-2580.