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Can You Treat Heart Disease without Medication or Surgery? A New Study Says YES.

According to the Center for Disease Control, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, with approximately 610,000 heart disease related deaths in the United States every year — that’s one in every four deaths.

The medical community is becoming increasingly aware of the connection between heart disease and obesity, with recent studies showing that obesity can increase a person’s risk of developing atrial fibrillation by as much as 40 percent.

Depending on the type and severity, common ways of treating heart disease can be costly, uncomfortable, and impact quality of life. People with heart disease are often prescribed medications that must be taken for the rest of their lives, with missed doses being very dangerous. Others may need surgery. By 2030, annual direct medical costs associated with cardiovascular diseases are projected to rise to more than $818 billion, while lost productivity costs could exceed $275 billion.

However, a recent study shows that there may be a less costly option that promises a more promising long-term solution to heart disease. Recently published Australian research in the peer-reviewed journal Europace shows for the first time that obese people who are suffering from atrial fibrillation can actually reduce or reverse the effects of the condition by losing weight. In fact, researchers found that a 10 percent loss in weight can reverse the progression of the disease.

“This is the first time that evidence has been found that if people who are obese and are suffering from atrial fibrillation the disease can be alleviated by losing weight and treating lifestyle factors,” says lead author Melissa Middeldorp, PhD researcher from the University of Adelaide’s Centre for Heart Rhythm Disorders.

In addition to reversing the progression of the disease, the study showed some other incredible findings. People in the study who lost at least 10 percent of their body weight:

• Experienced fewer symptoms
• Required less treatment
• Had better outcomes
• Stopped experiencing atrial fibrillation entirely

(Click here to download our free white paper “Obesity Treatment for Patients with Cardiovascular Disease.”)

With heart disease being as prevalent as it is, most health care providers are sure to be seeing many overweight patients in their primary care clinics who are either suffering from heart disease or at risk for developing it. Early treatment, including treatment for risk factors like obesity, is crucial to getting it under control before it becomes a costly and life-threatening problem.

Start the conversation about obesity with your patients today. Don’t know how? Robard Corporation, a leader in the weight management industry from more than 40 years, has many resources that can help, including a free video series, “How to Speak with Patients about Obesity.” To learn more, contact us. We can help you get an obesity treatment program started in three easy steps!

Sources: Science Daily; CDC Foundation; Center for Disease Control

Blog written by Vanessa Ramalho/Robard Corporation


Maintaining Weight Loss in the Summer Months: Free Staff Training Kit

When it comes to seasonal weight gain, the causes of winter weight gain for most people are obvious. Then, after the winter months, New Year’s Resolutions and the prospect of getting “beach ready” kick people back into gear with their weight loss goals and diets. Unfortunately, once the summer season is upon us, new challenges present themselves that many don’t think much about.

Like winter, there are many causes for summer weight gain that can sabotage the progress your patients may have made. Don’t let your patients fall into the summer trap! Below are some reasons why the summer season can lead to weight gain:

1. BBQs: Cookouts are a summer staple in the U.S., and for good reason. They’re fun opportunities to get together with friends and family and enjoy good weather and good food. Unfortunately, that food is very often full of bad calories! Between BBQ sauce, sugary sweat teas and lemonades, sodium-filled hot dogs, and beers full of empty calories, BBQs are a haven for diet temptations. Check out our blog with some great diet-friendly tips on how to enjoy your summer BBQs without cheating too much.
2. Heat: Did you know the heat itself can actually contribute to weight gain? Many people assume that just because they are sweating, they are losing weight. That’s not necessarily the case. Heat can actually slow your metabolism since your body is not actively working to heat up your body internally like it does during colder weather months. Additionally, when it’s hot, people are less likely to be as physically active and actually move more slowly when outside. Physical activity outdoors tends to drop — and so does the calorie burn. If staying active in the heat is a challenge, encourage your patients to workout indoors or visit the gym where it is air conditioned, or take a swim in a pool which is a full body workout!
3. Summer desserts: What’s the first thing people crave on a hot day? Cold desserts, of course! Ice cream, frozen yogurt, popsicles, and water ice help to combat the summer heat. But they’re also full of sugar, fat, and empty calories. If you’re craving something sweet, Robard offers a variety of dessert products that nutritionally support weight loss, as well as a variety of shakes that can be blended with ice for a cool and delicious treat. And of course, remind your patients to drink plenty of water with ice to cool down and stay hydrated.

Summer can be a difficult season for weight loss patients, but with the proper training and resources, health care providers can be one of the biggest support systems to get them through the season without feeling like they can’t enjoy themselves. Download our free staff training kit, “Added Value Maintenance,” which guides your staff through clear, easy-to-implement guidelines on how to help your patients succeed in the Maintenance Phase of Weight Loss. 

And if your patients need a little extra motivation, download and print out our free Weight Loss Affirmation Cards to keep them thinking positively and help them stay on track!

Sources: Health, NBC News

Blog written by Vanessa Ramalho/Robard Corporation


The Convergence of Depression, Trauma, and Obesity

Long before I was a Board Certified Family Medicine physician involved with Obesity Medicine, I was a Teaching Fellow and Performing Arts Consultant working for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in their Very Special Arts Program. I had an assignment to travel to a remote and rural area of Vermont to do a week long workshop for a local school district, working with classroom teachers, physical education teachers and administrators on how to integrate dance into the classroom and how to integrate movement into the academic curriculum.

On touring this small town, population under 3,000, I was initially struck by the quiet beauty of the area and then quite literally by the size and body habitus of the population. Everywhere I looked it seemed that people, children and adults were incredibly large, with round faces and protuberant bellies hanging over their belts — those who could wear belts, that is; many were simply wearing pants with elasticized waist bands.

The next day at the school a teacher remarked to me that most of the kids in her classroom were extremely overweight and depressed, unable to concentrate. She remarked that most of them got that way because in this community there was a high incidence of alcoholism, domestic and sexual violence. It had become almost a cultural custom: “Protect your kids from the predator (usually in your own home) by making them fat, ugly, and hence unappealing. Fat boys and girls were not the ones who got raped, beaten or otherwise abused in this small community.”

The school had specifically wanted workshops and teacher training for their staff that included dance in the hopes that it would inspire the student population to get motivated to move and that the creative aspect of dance arts would inspire their souls. In his book, The Body Keeps the Score, Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D., describes that one avenue toward healing trauma is to let the body have experiences that deeply and viscerally contradict the helplessness, rage, or collapse that results from trauma.

In her recently published book, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, New York  Times bestselling author, Roxane Gay, writes about how her path to morbid obesity, self-loathing, despair, desperation and depression was precipitated by a gang rape at the hands of a school mate and his friends. Like the youth of the rural town in Vermont, Gay writes, “I was swallowing my secrets and making my body expand and explode. I found ways to hide in plain sight, to keep feeding a hunger that could never be satisfied — the hunger to stop hurting. I made myself bigger. I made myself safer.”

Many years later I would come to learn that the trauma was often the common denominator lurking behind the twin symptoms of depression and obesity. I would also learn that sometimes the obesity came first and that mental and emotional collapse would follow years later as a person struggled throughout their lifetime within a culture that tends toward cruelty, intolerance and indifference towards people living with larger bodies.

Everyday across all medical specialties, physicians see people living with obesity. At the very least, I would encourage all of our colleagues to fine tune their listening skills when taking the history of their patient and to use available tools to assess for depression, anxiety, and domestic violence — regardless of why the patient has initially sought out the visit. When there are any signs of depression, mood disorder, or mental illness, refer the patient to an Obesity Medicine Specialist whose four cornerstones of treatment are: Nutrition, Physical Activity, Medication, and Behavior. If the patient is in need of further support or treatment for psychosis, the Obesity Medicine specialist can also supply the appropriate referral to Psychiatry. With the appropriate continuum of care the result can be an engaged patient in a healing partnership that can change the outcomes of our system of providing healthcare.

Behavior change and extensive patient education materials are interwoven into all of Robard’s medially-supervised weight loss programs. If you’re a medical provider and would like more information, click here.

About the Author: Dr. Carol Penn is a physician with Medimorphosis and Ocean Health Initiatives as well as lead consultant with in AllOne Consulting Group in New Jersey, and Medical Correspondent for WURD Radio in Philadelphia, PA.  She is Board Certified in Family Medicine and Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment, Ambassador and Scholar, National Health Service Corps, Associate Clinical Professor, Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine; Faculty, Center for Mind Body Medicine; Certified Health, Wellness, and Fitness Coach and Founder/Director of Core of Fire Interfaith Dance Ministry.

References: The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, Bessel Van Der Kolkata, MD; Hunger: A Memoir of My Body, Roxane Gay.