Holiday Gifts from the Heart for the Heart

The holidays are here, and the quest to find the perfect gifts for friends and family is on. This year, give the gift that really does keep on giving: the gift of good heart health.

Dr. Philip TroyerAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. While that is not a pleasant thought this time of year, "you can help prevent heart disease by making healthy choices and managing any medical conditions you may have," says Philip Troyer, M.D., cardiologist at Bradenton Cardiology Center. Troyer, M.D., F.A.C.C., earned his medical degree from the University of Florida. Upon completing his internship and residency in internal medicine and a cardiology Fellowship at a University of Virginia affiliated program, Dr. Troyer joined the Bradenton Cardiology Team in 1991. His areas of expertise include specialized training in nuclear cardiology, as well as many invasive techniques. He is Board Certified in cardiology and internal medicine.

This year, consider giving these gifts from Bradenton Cardiology Center's Top 5 Heart Healthy Gift List. While they may be simple, these gifts are truly life-saving.

1) Toothbrush
Help keep those pearly whites clean with a new toothbrush. Paying attention to dental hygiene and health -- especially the gums -- may pay off with more than a gleaming, healthy smile and manageable dental bills. It may mean a healthy heart, too. Gum disease is a risk factor for coronary artery disease. Electric toothbrushes are a great stocking stuffer and a good way to boost brushing power.

2) Gym Membership
Gym memberships and athletic class certificates are among the most popular presents. Give the gift of health and fitness with a membership to a conveniently located health club or fitness studio. Fitness centers offer a nearly endless variety of ways to get in shape, from personal trainers for tailored fitness programs to a fun and healthy social outlet.

3) Drink to Good Health
Coffee and tea are healthy gifts brimming with antioxidants and flavonoids. Green tea is believed to possibly reduce the risk of heart disease, and research has shown that coffee may lower the risk of type two diabetes, Parkinson's disease, liver disease, and cirrhosis. A gift of wine is a great way to toast the season and can be healthy, too. "It's believed moderate alcohol use, one drink per day for women or one to two drinks per day for men, may slightly increase HDL, the so-called good cholesterol," Troyer says.

4) Nuts
Eating nuts as part of a healthy diet can be good for the heart. Nuts, which contain unsaturated fatty acids and other nutrients, are a great snack food, as well.

People who eat nuts as part of a heart-healthy diet can lower LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, levels, in the blood. High LDL is one of the primary causes of heart disease. "Eating nuts reduces your risk of developing blood clots that can cause a fatal heart attack. Nuts also improve the health of the lining of your arteries," asys Troyer.

5) Give the Gift of Your Time
If money is tight, or even if it's not, spending time with friends or loved ones could actually be the most priceless holiday gift you can give. Make a gift certificate redeemable for a run, bike ride, or workout to do together. Prepare a healthy holiday meal and deliver it during the hectic weeks before the holidays to give a friend a helping hand. These are gifts that will be remembered long into the new year.

There are many other heart-healthy holiday gift ideas, from stress balls to jump ropes. Staying active year round and knowing the facts of our family health history may be the best bet in maintaining a healthy heart and protecting the hearts of loved ones.

Posted by George Thomas, Ballard Smith on Dec 22, 2011