It is American Heart Month and we spoke to two cardiologists to help understand how simple changes in your daily routine can go a long way in ensuring your heart is healthy.

In the earlier article, we highlighted that lifestyle management is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. In this article, Dr. Rohin Francis and Dr. Sanjay Gupta talk about how we can go about ensuring the same.

Eat healthy

You are less likely to stick to a diet when an entire food group is eliminated in one go. Therefore, consultant cardiologist Dr. Rohin Francis suggested working “on small incremental changes.”

“In spite of hundreds of diets being on the confusing and often predatory nutrition market, some advice remains evergreen,” said Dr. Francis, who has over 474,000 subscribers on YouTube. “Avoid refined carbs like sugar, avoid ultra processed food, eat whole foods, increase your vegetable intake.”

Stay active

Your heart can benefit a great deal from just 30 minutes of workout every day.

“It can be a brisk walk. Something that would mean it's a little challenging to talk when you're doing it,” said Dr. Francis. “Walking is a superb exercise for all ages. It gets the heart beating a bit faster, blood flowing around the body” and “activates most muscles.”

Understand your risk for heart disease

“The factors we can't control are our family history, our age and our sex,” said Dr. Francis. “But we can control things like cholesterol, blood sugar, weight, exercise, blood pressure and smoking status.”

Your doctors and healthcare team can help you understand your risk profile through risk-estimating scores and algorithms. A doctor may also recommend a CT angiogram to get a better picture. “If you have a normal CT angiogram, then the chances of something bad happening to you are incredibly low in the next 3-5 years,” said Dr. Sanjay Gupta, consultant cardiologist at York Teaching Hospital with over 304,000 subscribers on YouTube.

Keep an eye on…

…blood pressure, the quality and duration of sleep, and your heart rate, Dr. Francis said. “Heart rate is something of a magic number in cardiology, in that the lower it is, typically the longer people live,” he added. “Obviously there are exceptions to this but I advise patients starting on an exercise program to monitor their heart rate both during exercise, but more importantly, at rest. The resting heart rate will quickly start improving after some regular exercise.”

Focus on the quality of life

Stress, depression and anxiety “don’t really serve any purpose” and are highly inflammatory to the body, according to Dr. Gupta, who highlighted the importance of improving the quality of life for better heart health.

Loneliness can also affect the quality of life. “Wherever possible, people should avoid being lonely,” added Dr. Gupta, “and people should surround themselves with the people they love.”

“Investing in yourself is a good idea. So invest in your health, invest in your personal growth,” Dr. Gupta continued. “Wherever possible, living a life where you’re giving and you’re grateful is important for the mind because when you give, you feel joy and that joy makes your quality of life better.”

Heart disease Credit: Pixabay