Cardiologists Practice What They Preach on Diet, Exercise

Contact: Nicole Napoli,, 202.375.6523

WASHINGTON (Feb. 4, 2012) — Each day heart doctors get a close look at the consequences of daily decisions about diet and exercise—an experience that motivates them to exercise and eat well and to wish patients better understood the impact of current activity on long-term health.

In a survey for February, American Heart Month, almost eight out of 10 cardiologists contacted by the American College of Cardiology reported that they exercise at least three to four times a week. More than 40 percent reported exercising five to seven days a week.

“Generally, I feel better when I am active,” said JoAnne M. Foody, MD, FACC, the ACC’s CardioSmart Chief Medical Expert. “Exercise is a great way not only to stay in shape, but clear the mind and reduce stress.”

More than 45 percent cited medical knowledge about the consequences of a lack of exercise as a motivation to stick with it. The doctors said their biggest motivators to exercise and eat well were staying fit, remaining healthy as they age, feeling healthy and improving their quality of life. Maintaining healthy weight, reducing stress and feeling good about themselves were also top motivators.

“Small changes can make a big difference when it comes to heart health,” Dr. Foody said. “I believe in incorporating activity throughout the day and staying as active as possible. The stairs are the most underleveraged fitness venues we have in this country. I use them whenever I can.”

The most common activities identified by the more than 500 heart doctors in the survey were aerobics/weight training/gym exercise, followed by walking, running and bicycling.

ACC President William Zoghbi, MD, FACC, who travels frequently representing the College, said he exercises with his wife when he is at home in Houston and packs his exercise gear when he travels. Both at home and on the road, he practices portion control to still be able to enjoy the foods he loves but maintain a healthy diet.

“I love good food and that has been my weakness, so I practice portion control, eating smartly and keeping in mind total caloric intake without spoiling the experience,” Dr. Zoghbi said.

Cardiologists in the survey indicated providing a positive example for patients is one motivator for them to exercise and eat healthy foods, and most said they wished patients and the general public better understood how current actions like physical activity and diet affect their long-term health.

“Each person needs to know their blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugar; strive for normal weight; and if they smoke, seek help and find the motivation to stop smoking,” Dr. Zoghbi said. “Heart healthy lifestyle also helps prevent other diseases such as cancer, diabetes and lung disease. You can triple your benefit by taking care of your heart.”

Through its CardioSmart Initiative, the ACC is partnering with consumer and nonprofit organizations throughout American Heart Month to host events that spread the word about heart health and educate the public on the importance of diet and exercise as aspects of a heart healthy life.

This year’s American Heart Month message emphasizes the importance of women’s heart health. Heart disease is the number one killer of women, but most women don’t know the signs or symptoms of this life-threatening condition.

American Heart Month events include:

• Women's Cardiovascular Health Symposium (Feb. 6, 3:30 p.m. ET) - Prior to The Heart Truth Red Dress Collection Fashion Show, The ACC will host a town hall style discussion on women's heart disease prevention moderated by ACC Board of Trustees Member Mary Walsh, MD, FACC, and CardioSmart Chief Medical Expert JoAnne M. Foody, MD, FACC. Speakers, including U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, MD, MBA; ACC President William Zoghbi, MD, FACC; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Director Gary Gibbons, MD; Million Hearts Executive Director Janet Wright, MD, FACC; and Brigham and Women's Health Care President Elizabeth Nabel, MD, will discuss how their personal and/or organizational activities support the goal of reducing heart disease among women and how, collectively, we should advance the fight against heart disease. A reception will follow the symposium.
• The Heart Truth Red Dress Collection Fashion Show (Feb. 6, 7 p.m. ET) - ACC is partnering with the NHLBI's The Heart Truth Campaign for the 10th annual Red Dress Collection Fashion Show in New York.
• Seventh Annual Heart of Women’s Health symposium (Feb. 8-9) – The ACC will host an educational symposium to help health care professionals in providing better treatment for their female patients in the ongoing battle against heart disease, the number one cause of death and disability among American women.
• CardioSmart Heart Health Awareness Day (Feb. 14) – CardioSmart will partner with hospitals nationwide to provide free heart health screenings and educational materials to the public. In addition, screenings will be held at the U.S. House (Feb. 7) and Senate (Feb. 14) buildings in partnership with Sister to Sister.

For more information on any of these events or to speak with an expert source, contact Nicole Napoli at or 202.375.6523.

The mission of the American College of Cardiology is to transform cardiovascular care and improve heart health. The College is a 40,000-member medical society comprised of physicians, surgeons, nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists and practice managers. The College is a leader in the formulation of health policy, standards and guidelines. The ACC provides professional education, operates national registries to measure and improve quality of care, disseminates cardiovascular research, and bestows credentials upon cardiovascular specialists who meet stringent qualifications. For more information, visit


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