Dr. Uday Jani will give a free talk titled Beyond Stents and Statins: An Integrative Approach to Managing Heart Disease, from 3 to 4 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 27, at Lewes Public Library, and from 6 to 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 28, at Milton Public Library. The presentations are free and open to the community.
Valve replacement, bypass surgery, stents and cholesterol-lowering medications are highly effective tools to manage and prevent heart disease – but there’s a largely untapped and equally promising arsenal of alternative approaches to complement the traditional.
Jani, a respected local internal medicine physician who specializes in holistic care, will provide his thoughtful insights and latest updates on the integrative approach to cardiac care. Alternative methods to keep heart, mind and spirit healthy will be explored, including integrative nutrition, massage therapy, exercise, mind-body techniques, and acupuncture.
“There’s no question we have made great strides in managing heart disease with smaller pacemakers, more flexible stents, better heart valves and intra-cardiac devices which have saved lives,” said Jani. “But the inescapable fact is for all the progress made, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S.”
That may sound discouraging, but actually presents an unprecedented opportunity to take a new look at why the the needle hasn’t moved on eradicating this intractable disease, according to Jani.
“Prevention through lifestyle changes is the first line of defense and the key to changing the paradigm of treating with more medication or additional procedures,” said Jani. Whether the focus is on decreasing the risk of having a first heart attack or preventing a second or even third one, the benefits of a healthy lifestyle can’t be overstated.
One of the most important contributors to heart disease is being overweight, and despite a recent Cleveland Clinic survey that helps many people understand the connection between healthy weight and healthy heart, they’re not doing enough to combat their own weight issues. Part of the reason is a lack of knowledge about how to best lose weight, with just 14 percent aware that a Mediterranean diet is good for heart health and nearly half saying they believe using artificial sweeteners is a healthy way to lose weight. In addition, most people don’t understand how strongly obesity is linked to high “bad” cholesterol levels (54 percent) or coronary artery disease (57 percent), and two-thirds (64 percent) don’t know it can lead to a stroke.
“It’s clear physicians need to do a better job of educating patients about the impact of excess weight, and work together on a plan that combines healthier eating and regular exercise in a way best suited to their individual lifestyle,” said Jani. “Even losing just 5 percent of body weight can yield noticeable health benefits.”
Mind-body techniques – tai chi, qi gong, yoga, meditation, hypnosis, guided imagery, biofeedback, relaxation response and mindfulness – have also proven successful in lowering blood pressure and enhancing heart health. “However, this is still the most underutilized modality in spite of the potential shown. In many cases, more medication is not the answer, but a focus on mind-body techniques that can reduce stress and literally change your life,” Jani said.
Jani will also address breakthroughs in treatment made possible with the increasing availability of genetic and pharmacogenomic testing.
“These tests help identify patients who are predisposed to genetic heart disease like cardiomyopathy or familial high cholesterol, and tell us in a very individualized way which drugs would work best and which are likely to cause side effects,” he said.
Ultimately, conquering heart disease will require a genuinely integrative approach, according to Jani.
“The greatest promise lies in combining clinical and technological advances with the very real benefits of lifestyle modifications and mind-body techniques, and considering them all in the context of the whole patient,” he said.
Jani, a board-certified internist in private practice at Shore View Personal Care in Milton, believes in treating the whole person, not just the disease, utilizing an evidence-based integrative approach. He completed a two-year Integrative Medicine fellowship at the University of Arizona, recognized as the leading integrative medicine program in the world, followed by training at the Institute for Functional Medicine. For more information, call 302-684-0990 or go to www.udayjanimd.com.