Healthy Heart Program: Prevention is the Best Medicine

Dr. Quinn Pauley BestMedicine Wednesday

If you or a loved one have suffered a heart attack or other serious heart event, it’s important to take steps to avoid the likelihood of another heart issue. Dr. Quinn Pauly, director of Renown’s new Healthy Heart Program, discusses these important lifestyle changes.

Living a healthy lifestyle is important for anyone with chronic health conditions. For patients with diabetes, cancer and heart issues, lifestyle changes can make a big difference and help reduce future risk. We asked Quinn Pauly, M.D., how Renown’s new Healthy Heart Program focuses on changing one’s daily lifestyle.

What is the Healthy Heart Program?

The Healthy Heart Program is an intensive cardiac rehab program for patients who have suffered a heart attack or other serious heart event and need to make lifestyle changes. Our Healthy Heart Program is the first and only Pritikin Intensive Cardiac Rehab in Nevada and one of less than 15 nationwide. Pritikin is internationally recognized as a comprehensive lifestyle management program focused on three pillars: nutrition, exercise and a healthy mindset.

The nutrition plan focuses on eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Patients also receive individualized exercise regimens using state-of-the-art gym equipment specially made for heart patients. All the patients receive individual attention from a team of registered nurses, clinical exercise physiologists, registered dietitians and stress management specialists.

What kind of difference does healthy lifestyle make for heart patients?

According to the World Health Organization, 80 percent of all heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes can be prevented with healthier lifestyle. The Healthy Heart Program is focused on making those daily lifestyle changes, which means eating a heart-healthy diet, exercising at least 30 minutes each day and working to reduce stress. 

What are some of the results you’ve seen with patients so far?

Our program is relatively new; it just opened in October but we’re already seeing the positive results. One patient had to use a walker when he first started, and in less than a month he was doing five minutes unassisted on the treadmill and his family has seen a tremendous change in the way he moves at home.

We had another patient who saw her blood pressure drop significantly simply from taking part in our mindfulness seminars. In fact, her blood pressure has improved so much she is now able to exercise with us, too. Nationally, studies of the Pritikin Longevity Center have shown adults lose an average of 7 to 11 pounds in the first three weeks and 68 percent of heart patients eliminated their chest pain for at least five years.

What lifestyle changes would you recommend for everyone — not just those who’ve had a heart event?

We all know living a healthy life can be a challenge — especially in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It’s important to balance your meals by focusing on fruits and vegetables, lean protein and whole grains. Eat slowly and make sure you stop eating when you’re satisfied — not stuffed.

Try to move more, too. This can be as simple as parking farther away from your destination, and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. If finding a half hour to exercise is challenging, focus on 10-minute breaks throughout the day. Set realistic goals and work your way up. Once you make your “starter” goals a habit, reward yourself and set a new, more challenging goal.

If you’re struggling to do it on your own, you can meet with registered dietitians with our Health Improvement Programs to help get you started and support you along the way.

Learn more about Renown’s Heart Healthy Program online. To schedule a consultation with one of Renown’s registered dietitians at Health Improvement Programs, call 775-982-5073.