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Cardiovascular Health: What Everyone Can Do to Optimize Their Health

The American Heart Association has, for the first time, identified health factors and lifestyle behaviors its research indicates are necessary to keep your heart in good shape.

The AHA says ideal cardiovascular health for adults is defined by these health measures.

Listen in as Dr. Joe P. Chauvapun, a board certified Vascular Surgeon and a member of the medical staff at Palmdale Regional Medical Center, goes over a few of these simple steps, to take charge of your health and lead a fuller life!
Cardiovascular Health: What Everyone Can Do to Optimize Their Health
Featured Speaker:
Joe P. Chauvapun, MD
Joe P. Chauvapun, MD is board certified in Vascular & General Surgery and a member of the medical staff at Palmdale Regional Medical Center.

Learn more about Joe P. Chauvapun, MD

Melanie Cole (Host):  Heart disease and stroke are among the nation's leading cause of death and disability. They can affect anyone without regard to age, race, ethnicity, sex, or income level. Some aspects of these are largely preventable. My guest today is Dr. Joe Chauvapun. He's a vascular surgeon and a member of the medical staff of Palmdale Regional Medical Center. Welcome to the show, Dr. Chauvapun. What are we seeing these days in regards to heart disease and stroke in this country?

Dr. Joe Chauvapun (Guest):  Hi, Melanie. Thanks for having me on your show. With respect to cardiovascular disease and stroke, these are some of the highest mortality in the nation. As long as our patients can be in great vascular health, they'll live a long life.

Melanie:  You have some steps for us because people want to optimize their health. They want to do things that they don't feel are that hard to make those lifestyle changes. What you want to tell them?

Dr. Chauvapun:  Thanks for asking me that question. Oftentimes, when I get the patients in my office, they're always asking me after some life changing event that has happened to their cardiovascular, they'll ask, "Dr. Chauvapun, what can I do? If there are any magic pill that I can take? Is there any herbal supplement that I can do in order to optimize my health?" Frankly, there are two things that we can do in order to optimize our health, and they're very, very basic. Whenever I look at any new and innovative changes that can happen in medical care—you know, things come in cycle in medicine all the time. However with the changes that occur, we always go back to the basics and the first basic tenant is what was written by Hippocrates, which is "Let thy food be thy medicine." When I tell all my patients that if you can eat in a healthful manner, and they're always asking me, “How can I do that?” In answer to that question what I tell them is anything that's processes is probably not so good for your cardiovascular health. What ends up happening with processed food is traditionally, it can cause some stress within the vascular system which will, thereby, lead to vascular disease. If they can stay away from that and eat more natural food, that's very helpful for our patient. The other thing that they always ask me is, “Is there anything else?” And, Melanie, you are going to love this. It’s movement. Movement is medicine. The more the patients can move around and engage in exercise activities, and we're not talking about going to gym and carrying two hundred pounds of weight. What we're talking about is simply thirty minutes of cardiovascular exercise three times a week. It's not only good for your vascular but also very good for your brain as well. What we found is individuals who moved around a lot, who are more active and who are senior will live a lot longer, five years longer than a counterpart who doesn't have an exercise regimen. It makes you feel better, increases your self-esteem and your self-confidence.

Melanie:  Exercise certainly is medicine according to the American College of Sports Medicine, Dr. Chauvapun. So, you say they don't have to go lift big weights. People are not sure how to begin when you tell them that. When they say, "How do I begin? What can I do to lose a little weight and get some exercise?" What's the first thing you tell them to do?

Dr. Chauvapun:  Simple. What I tell them is, number one, it's a mind set and they have to want to do this. They should identify their 'why'. Why do they want to exercise? For most of us, it is to have healthier living and living longer. So, as long as they can identify their 'why', then the next is the 'how'. What I tell everybody is, especially for individuals who are first starting to work out or want to become active, most of us every January first is now running down to the gym, signing up for a membership, and they go for about a month and then drop out completely and become demotivated. However, I think if you can identify your 'why' and then take simple steps which includes, maybe, if you haven't done any activities at all, maybe start by doing a five minute walk every day. When you start to engage in these mini habits a five minute walk can grow up to ten minutes and then, after that, to twenty and then to thirty, and who knows? That can lead to a brisk jog and eventually to cardiovascular exercise which is very beneficial to your body. But, the first step is to move your body and a lot of people have a hard time doing that.

Melanie:  They certainly do. You mentioned nutrition and processed foods and certainly "Let food be thy medicine." When people get confused about what they can eat, what to do with all those healthy foods that they hear about? What do you tell them when they get to the grocery store? How should they look at the grocery store when they start to shop?

Dr. Chauvapun:  I love this question because I get it all the time in my office. Everybody asks me, “What I should buy?” Melanie, I have a simple solution for all the patients and all the listeners that are listening to this show. What I tell everybody is, as you walk into the grocery store, stay away from the middle aisles. What you want to do is, walk along the perimeter of the store. So, when you go into your major supermarket as you turn left or right, you will see the produce department. You go there, pick up all your good fresh veggies and fruits. Go to the back, pick up some dairy product and some meat. Pick up some water, avoid the bakery, and just leave. There you would pick up all the good stuff, all the bad stuff is kind of in the center, including your ho-hos, and your cakes, and all the processed food and everything else, they are usually held in aisles. But, if you can stay in a periphery you'll be okay.

Melanie:  What about knowing our numbers? We hear the risks blood pressure and cholesterol and blood sugar. What do you want people to know as a vascular surgeon about those numbers they see in the blood test?

Dr. Chauvapun:  That's a really good question. I think sometimes we get super focused on the numbers and we become demotivated. Some of my patients who are diabetic, they get frustrated because their numbers are so high. What I tell them is, "Yes, use your numbers as a guideline." However, I think the more important point is to actually stick to healthy living. If you can stick to minding what you put into your body and start doing the exercise. What you'll see is all those numbers will come down. I see a lot of the patients who are diabetic in my office who actually have gone from pre-diabetics back to normal when they start doing exercise, start watching what they're eating, and also losing weight. That's a huge component. What affects us here in United States and most first world countries is the fact that we are saturated with a lot of processed food within our diet, and our diet has been very high caloric in intake, and mostly they're from the foods that exist within the aisles within the grocery store. However, when people engage in healthier living and healthier movement and exercise, what they find is that their weight comes off and, in that circumstance, they'll actually lose that pre-diabetic status of their body and become healthy.

Melanie:  We have this epidemic of obesity and childhood obesity, Dr. Chauvapun, and now we're seeing children coming up with diseases that used to be mainly for adults. What do you tell parents about getting the whole family into this healthy eating and good activity all together so that this doesn't seem to be the norm?

Dr. Chauvapun:  Oh, absolutely. That's a really good question. When you look at a head of household in terms of what dictates what happens to the rest of the family. You can see that Mom actually has such a huge impact in terms of how the family is going to diet, because it’s mom's going to the stores and buying the produce and the food for the household. That may have a huge impact in terms of what the child's going to imbibe into their body, and that impacts how much they're going to weigh and the health of the entire family. What I say to that is, as long as we can educate Mom and adults within the household, their children will follow in terms of their health habits.

Melanie:  I couldn't agree more. In just the last few minutes, Dr. Chauvapun, wrap this up for us, what should people who want to improve their health think about the most important bits of information you've given us here today.

Dr. Chauvapun:  So, just two things. Number one, let thy food be thy medicine. Number two, movement is medicine. If we can embrace that we will get rid of ninety percent of diseases that are killing us today.

Melanie:  Why should they come to Palmdale Regional Medical Center for their care?

Dr. Chauvapun:  Because it's one of the best places in the world.

Melanie:  What a great answer. Thank you so much for being with us. You're an excellent guest. Thanks so much. You’re listening to Palmdale Regional Radio with Palmdale Regional Medical Center. For more information you can go to That's Physicians or independent practitioners who are not employees or agents of Palmdale Regional Medical Center. The hospital shall not be liable for actions or treatments provided by those physicians. This is Melanie Cole Thanks so much for listening.