Our team of experienced primary care physicians and wellness professionals enjoy access to the latest research and are well versed on a variety of topics in the areas of health and wellness. Visit this page often for practical tips and tools for staying healthy and fit.
Happy Summer! The Northwestern Medicine Executive Health (NMEH) staff has put together a brief newsletter we hope you enjoy!
From the plank position of NMEH Exercise Physiologists:
You do not need to be a triathlete, or cross-fitter to become a healthier person. You can reap many of the same health benefits those individuals gain from vigorous exercise, with just a little easy movement.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC), the American Medical Association (AMA), and numerous other organizations, have all recognized and established that 150 minutes each week of just above easy intensity walking (walking faster than you normally would), can greatly reduce the risk of heart disease and lower the incidence of lower back pain.
150 minutes may seem like a big number when it stands alone, but this can be achieved by walking for 10 minutes in the morning, 5 minutes out to lunch and 5 minutes back, and 10 minutes in the evening. You will have your 150 minutes in before your weekend even begins!
From the kitchen of NEH Registered Dieticians:
Farmer’s Market Salad*
Ingredients (Serves 4)
1 1/2 lbs. new potatoes (yellow fingerlings would work too)
2 bunches of asparagus
1 cup cooked whole lentils (prepare as indicated on food label or purchase vacuum packed lentils from the produce section of your grocery store—Trader Joe’s/Whole Foods sell prepared lentils)
1 small handful chives
5 radishes, very thinly sliced
4 Tbsps. olive oil
2 Tbsps. apple cider vinegar
1 spring onion, very finely chopped
salt & black pepper
Rinse and scrub the potatoes and place them whole in a large saucepan, cover with water and add sea salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and let simmer until tender, about 10-15 minutes.
Rinse and trim the asparagus by snapping off the dry ends. Place the asparagus in a steaming basket (or use a sieve with a lid) and cover. Remove the lid from the saucepan with the boiling potatoes and place the basket on top, the steam from the boiling potato water is used to steam the asparagus. Steam until the asparagus are tender, 5–10 minutes depending on their thickness.
Slice the radishes and rinse the cooked lentils (if necessary).
Finely chop the spring onion and add to the oil and stir in apple cider vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.
Place all salad ingredients in a bowl. Right before serving, add the vinaigrette and use your hands to toss until everything is coated in the vinaigrette. Best served warm.
This salad is great served with grilled fish, shrimp or roast chicken. It is also wonderful to eat that next day as a light lunch.
*Recipe adapted from www.greenkitchenstories.com
From the standing desk of NEH Medical Director, Dr. Lorrie Elliott:
One of the most common questions we get at NEH is “Should I take aspirin to help prevent a heart attack?”
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), charged with reviewing comprehensive data and making public health recommendations, recently reviewed the use of aspirin for the prevention of disease in adults aged 50 and over. Their review of clinical trials involving over 25,000 patients between 2008–2015 adds to a previous review published in 2009, involving over 95,000 patients.
Both reviews found a 22% decrease in the relative risk for a heart attack, no effect on risk of stroke, and about a 58% increase in the risk of serious gastrointestinal bleeding as well as a small increase in hemorrhagic stroke. The net benefit—that is, the reduction in heart attack risk minus the bleeding risk - was relatively small (a decrease in 1–2 events per 1000 person-years). Although the benefit was higher in those who have more risk factors for heart disease, they are also more prone to bleeding, so the net benefit did not change. The benefit to aspirin required a minimum of daily use for 5–10 years. In addition, aspirin did not show any benefit on either total cardiovascular mortality or overall mortality.
The USPSTF recommends considering aspirin 81 mg daily in those age 50–69 who have a predicted risk for a heart attack or stroke of at least 10% in the next ten years, who do not have an increased risk for bleeding, and who are willing to take aspirin for at least ten years. (To find your estimated 10-year risk, go to: http://tools.acc.org/ASCVD-Risk-Estimator/. You will need to know your most recent systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol levels. Note that if you are already taking cholesterol-lowering medication, the calculator is not accurate.) There was insufficient data to recommend aspirin in those ages 70 or over.
Aspirin may also decrease the risk of colon cancer, although clinical trials have found conflicting results; any decrease in colon cancer risk appears with more than 10 years of daily use. Again, any benefit in high-risk people needs to be weighed against the risk of bleeding. The effect of aspirin on total cancer mortality and cancer incidence is not clear.
In the next four years, we should have the results of five more large clinical trials looking at aspirin use in people with diabetes, people over age 70, and people at elevated cardiovascular risk. In the meantime, your NEH internist is happy to help you weigh your individual risk and benefit ratio to help you decide whether you should take daily aspirin! (Note that if you have heart disease, have had a stroke, or have had a physician tell you that you need to take aspirin for a particular reason, you should continue to take it—this discussion only pertains to the primary prevention of heart attacks in people without other indications for aspirin.)
As always, the NEH team is here to help you thrive, not just survive. You are welcome to reach out to your internist, dietician, and/or exercise physiologist anytime via phone or email.
We look forward to taking great care of you!
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