5 key tips from cardiologists to improve heart health

From the internal douche recipe with chia water (soaked in toxic diet culture) to the (extremely dangerous) Benadryl challenge that caused one death, TikTok trends can certainly be something to watch out for.

Recently, however, a health-focused TikTok trend has emerged that has solid potential. These videos offer wise advice from experts in various fields who share what they would never do given the depth of knowledge they have gained through their years of experience. While most have featured people with medical backgrounds, it’s not uncommon to find helpful advice from fire safety experts, chefs, marriage counselors, financial advisors, and more. While every internet trend should be viewed with an insightful lens, yes, even with experts, this most recent trend has been a highlight.

One of those areas of advice I was hoping to stumble upon in my FYP was a cardiologist with his advice on what to do and what not to do in the name of heart health, but unfortunately, even on my late-night commute, I’ve come up short. . So I went ahead and asked a cardiologist to share the rules he follows in his own life, including the ones he would never do, to maintain optimal heart health and increase longevity.

3 things a cardiologist never does

For Kaustubh Dabhadkar, MD, MPH, MBA, FACC, a North Carolina cardiologist specializing in preventive care, the top three no-no’s in his personal life are smoking, recreational drugs like cocaine, and heavy drinking. As a cardiologist, his perspective on these things emphasizes their impact on the heart.

“Smoking is directly associated with a number of health conditions — stroke, heart attack, diabetes, lung cancer — without any significant benefit,” says Dr. Dabhadkar. “And drugs like cocaine increase the short-term and long-term risk of heart attack and sudden cardiac death.”

As for alcohol, the word “excessive” is important. For Dr. Dabhadkar, his main concern here is alcohol’s risk of raising LDL cholesterol (the “bad” form) and triglycerides, so he avoids drinking in excess.

5 things a cardiologist does every day

When you think of heart health doctors and what their advice might be, one might quickly assume that they practice intense fitness regimens, follow a super strict diet, and emphasize the importance of taking a cocktail of supplements. However, for Dr. Dabhadkar, he will note that his own lifestyle practices are neither extreme nor restrictive; instead, they focus on maintaining strong connections with others, prioritizing mindfulness and movement throughout the day, and practicing a well-balanced lifestyle.

Interestingly, all of the above are common habits in the Blue Zone regions of the world, where people tend to live longer. Coincidence? I think not

1. Take the stairs

“Even a few minutes of exercise a day reduces future risk of heart disease,” says Dr. Dabhadkar. This is a helpful mindset to keep in mind: It’s important to remember that you don’t have to set aside hours for exercise or push yourself hard in the gym to improve your heart health. Physical activity looks different for everyone, and while it can sometimes mean taking a spin class or working up a sweat doing yoga, you can also stay active by taking a short walk, doing chores around the house, or (indeed) taking the stairs.

2. Eat breakfast

“This is the most important meal of the day and it keeps me going,” says Dr. Dabhadkar. Breakfast is so important for maintaining energy levels throughout the day, and studies have shown that those who skip breakfast tend to miss out on super heart-healthy ingredients like fiber and antioxidants.

3. Meditate

“Stress plays a vital role in heart and metabolic disease,” says Dr. Dabhadkar. “Meditation helps manage stress, so doing this every day can be beneficial in managing stress levels.”

4. Participate in sports

“Tennis helps me socialize while I get enough exercise,” says Dr. Dabhadkar. Believe it or not, socialization is another very important aspect of your heart health. For example, numerous studies have shown that social isolation and literal loneliness can increase the risk of heart disease.

5. Spend quality time with family

Talking about the importance of maintaining close relationships. “Spending quality time with my family helps me manage stress and is also a wonderful way to remind myself of what is truly important in life,” says Dr. Dabhadkar. In fact, to drive his point home even further, it’s very important that two of this cardiologist’s top five tips are about spending time with other people.

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