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Ask Oz and Roizen: Cardio Rehabilitation and Risks of Screen Time

Ask Oz and Roizen: Cardio Rehabilitation and Risks of Screen Time

Expert tips to keep your loved ones healthy at any age.

Q: My grandmother recently suffered a “minor” heart attack followed with a stent placement. She’s scared about a recommended cardio rehab program. What can I say to get her to go? —Laura G., NY, NY

A: Recovering from a heart attack can be challenging, not just physically but emotionally. Cardio rehab helps with both aspects. Unfortunately, only about two-thirds of diagnosis-appropriate patients are referred to cardio rehab and only about a quarter of those folks enroll in a rehab program. Even at the Cleveland Clinic where everyone with an appropriate diagnosis is approached separately by a doc and a nurse, only about 22 percent of patients join rehab. This is despite the fact that the program is almost totally covered by every insurance company, Medicare and Medicaid. Clearly, patients need to better understand the enormous benefits.

Explain to your mom that cardio rehab is a wide-ranging wellness program that promotes good health and a good mental attitude by offering everything from exercise to nutritional advice, emotional counseling and stress reduction. It’s individualized and can include help with other lifestyle changes (smoking cessation?) she wants to make. Here’s what she can expect.

Evaluation: Her program will start with a face-to-face evaluation with the professionals at her rehab center. An accompanying friend or family member would be welcome here. After that, she’ll probably have a stress test during which her heart rate and her blood pressure will be monitored. Then, they’ll review her medications and she and the cardio-rehab team will decide on the next steps.

Her Program: She will set up a schedule for attending lectures/discussions about healthy eating, classes in meditation or chair yoga, and workouts on exercise machines. There are also intensive cardiac rehab programs, which increase frequency and incorporate programs such as Ornish or Pritikin. They reduce the incidence of recurrence and restore a more active and normal lifestyle.

We hope you can convince your grandmother to go. We’ve seen so many people benefit from these programs—they restore physical and emotional self-confidence along with physical strength.

Q: I tell my 16-year-old son that he’s missing out on a lot by spending too much time on his computer and phone. What else can I say to get him to get out more? —Karin B., Tulsa, OK

A: How about making him aware of the threat to his eyesight that screen time poses? We remember when moms would tell kids, “Get out of the house and don’t come back until dinner!” Yes, times have changed, but past generations of kids who played outside more frequently didn’t end up nearsighted as often.

Recent studies have shown that adolescents and teens who are glued to their computer screens and phones don’t use their long-range sight and end up developing myopia (nearsightedness). One BBC report claims that 90 percent of young people in China are currently myopic. In Seoul, South Korea, it’s estimated that more than 95 percent of kids need glasses for distance. One study estimates that by 2050, 4.8 billion people worldwide will be affected by nearsightedness, which is 2.4 billion more than in 2010.

Theory #1: Lack of long-range focus
Getting children outside and away from their devices changes how they use their eye muscles and how the lens in the eye focuses on objects. Whether looking down the soccer field or down the street, gazing into the distance lets eyes move from near to far and focus more easily and accurately.

Theory #2: Lack of Sunshine
Several studies over the past seven or eight years have shown that kids who spend more time outside are less likely to develop nearsightedness both as adolescents and by the time they reach age 65. One study in China found that 40 more minutes of recess daily reduced myopia rates by 23 percent.

So tell your son it’s shortsighted to make yourself nearsighted when there’s so much fun to be had doing sports, hiking, walking and enjoying nature.

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