Heart Health in the BE Modern Man Community

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States and BE Modern Man believes that it is important to address prevalent health issues facing our community.

In order to gain a better understanding around this issue that affects many African Americans, we sat down with a doctor who’s passion for this subject comes from the heart. Literally.

Dr. Ivan Hernandez’s passion and primary purpose in life is to help people live a gratifying life through wellness. Armed with a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from NYU and certifications in Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy in the State of New York, the fitness enthusiast is also a Clinical instructor for New York Medical College’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program.

“Teaching gives me an opportunity to educate those that are eager to help others, as well as giving me personal fulfillment in knowing that I’ve contributed positively to humanity,” says Dr. Hernandez, who has been teaching for more than 10 years.

Determined to take his message and passion for health and wellness to the masses BE Modern Man caught up with Dr. Ivan to to talk heart health and what that means for African Americans.

What are the most prevalent cardiovascular issues among African-Americans?

The most prevalent cardiovascular issues among African-Americans are heart disease and stroke. Although frightening because heart disease is the number one cause of all mortality and stroke is a leading cause of death, African-Americans are at an even higher risk for developing these conditions.

At what age do you recommend people be screened for heart disease? Which tests should they have?

Because there are barriers that affect healthy eating and physical activity in youth African-Americans, obesity and diabetes are becoming prevalent factors earlier in life than decades prior. Furthermore, African-Americans have a gene that makes them susceptible to high blood pressure. All of these factors are precursors to the early brewing of these fatal diseases. For these reasons, we should be looking for the early signs of disease as early as childhood.

Most disease are mediated by sub-clinical inflammation – heart disease, stroke, cancer and Alzheimer’s to mention a few. In terms of which specific blood test to take, you want to look for inflammatory and other highly sensitive markers like: HS-CRP, fibrinogen, Cholesterol, and homocysteine to name a few.

What factors can contribute to an increase in a person’s chance of developing heart failure?

Outside of genetic predispositions, most factors are modifiable risk factors that can be addressed with lifestyle changes. Smoking, excessive alcohol, a sedentary  life and a poor diet can be positively altered in order to reduce the likelihood of cardiovascular disease.

How can African Americans keep their hearts healthy?

We need to first change our mindset to one where we are not just partaking in a symptom-based medical system. Diabetes, hypertension and elevated triglycerides are symptoms. We need to be more causation-based. If we reduce inflammation and improve our insulin sensitivity we can reach new milestones collectively as a group.  We have ancient bodies living in a modern world. With lifestyle modifications we can impact our health a great deal. Use a pedometer and walk at least 5,000 steps per day. Exercise 75-150 minutes per week. Eliminate all processed foods. Stick with fresh vegetables and quality fish and meats. Eat no more than 2 servings of fruit daily. Eat more fat and less carbohydrates. Sleep 7-9 hours in pure blackness. Meditate, deep breath, and yoga a great forms of stress management that should be employed daily. These are evidenced- based methods that we can incorporate into our lifestyle immediately in order we rely less on pharmaceutical medicine and more on our dynamic bodies as a cure to these preventable diseases.

My book Courage to Continue (due Spring 2017) touches on my journey with wellness and discusses how I suffered a heart attack. It chronicles my life and gives people my 5 Pillars of Optimal Wellness. Those pillars are proper diet, exercise, stress management, sleep and a mindset. I also started a weight loss Transformation Program and will be embarking on a book tour this year. It is my mission to educate as many people as possible through my practice and projects! For more information, go to TransformWithDrIvan.Eventbrite.com.

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