Meet 2015's Top Doctors
Meet Alon Gitig, MD, FACC
Practice: Mount Sinai Riverside Medical Group
Hospital Affiliation: St. John’s Riverside Hospital, Yonkers
Dr. Alon Gitig didn’t become enamored with cardiology until he began his residency training at New York Presbyterian–Weill Cornell. “I was originally drawn to cardiology during my residency training because the physiology of normal heart function and the pathophysiology of cardiac disease was fascinating,” says Gitig, who has been in practice since 2007 at the Mount Sinai Riverside Medical Group in Yonkers. “No matter how long one has been practicing, there continue to be complex diagnostic dilemmas that require outside-of-the-box thinking to properly solve. The satisfaction of grappling with a clinical puzzle and finally figuring out how all the pieces fit together is hard to equal in any other profession that I know of.”
But it’s not all about solving the clinical puzzle—Gitig is equally passionate about his role in preventative care. “Cardiology is an amazing field because of the role that prevention plays in so many people's lives. The opportunity to help disease-free individuals optimize their cardiovascular health and minimize their risk for future disease allows me to reach the greatest number of people in my work.”
What are the biggest contributors to heart disease?
With the obesity epidemic in full-swing, I would say the biggest contributor is probably the combination of lack of exercise and carbohydrate-laden diets. This leads to the condition known as insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome, in which there are several physiologic alterations that increase risk of developing diseased artery walls, heart attacks, and strokes.
Do your healthiest patients share any common traits or habits? The healthiest patients I see tend to be more mindful, in general, about how they are living. This may mean mindful eating, with a degree of advance planning and forethought about their meals and shopping lists, instead of exposing themselves to the hazards of whatever processed food is readily available to them at the instant that they become hungry during their busy day. Or it may mean thinking about where in their hectic lives they can begin to fit even a small amount of time for increased activity or movement.
How are Westchester residents doing when it comes to heart health?
Westchester residents are susceptible to the same pitfalls of modern living as everybody else—including more sedentary lifestyles, and diets saturated with sodium, processed foods, and, especially, processed carbohydrates. However, I
increasingly notice a trend among my Westchester patients to be more know-ledgeable about these unhealthy patterns and motivated to try to reverse them.
I find that a large proportion of my Westchester patients are sincerely motivated to live healthy lives. It is very rewarding to counsel people on how to maintain optimal health when they themselves are active participants in that process and truly want to get well or remain well. When people come into my office having successfully lost 25 pounds, or two inches of waist circumference, and they are just as excited to share that progress with me as I am to hear it, it motivates me that much more to keep trying to help them in these efforts.
Profiles by Ali Jackson-Jolley | Photography by Toshi Tasaki