Harvard Cardiologist Shares His Everyday Routines for a Strong Heart
The most common cause of death in the US is heart disease. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that cardiovascular disease claims one life in the country every 33 seconds.
But unlike many other illnesses, heart disease is one for which we may greatly reduce our risk by adopting easy daily routines. Newsweek spoke with Dr. Haider Warraich, a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a Harvard cardiologist, about his daily routine to maintain heart health in order to discover more about what each of us can do to prevent heart disease.
First up is exercise. “I exercise five to six times a week,” Warraich, author of the book State of the Heart, told.”I use my stationary bike for 30 minutes (and read fiction while I am at it) and then do resistance training for another 30.”
The heart is a muscle, and like all muscles, it becomes stronger with use. Walking, running, swimming, and dancing are examples of aerobic activity that strengthens the heart while decreasing blood pressure and assisting in maintaining a healthy body weight.
Walking and cycling at a brisk pace are two forms of moderate-intensity exercise that the U.S. Surgeon General suggests doing twice a week. It is advised that kids and teenagers engage in physical activity for one hour each day.
Diet needs to be examined next. Diet not only plays a significant role in total body weight, but it also has a significant impact on heart health by either promoting or inhibiting it. For instance, a higher risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease has been linked to diets heavy in sugar, sodium, and saturated fats.
“I recommend a Mediterranean diet and mostly try to have a high protein diet with little added sugars, sodium and saturated fats,” Warraich said.
And what beverage is that? “Coffee when taken in reasonable amounts appears to be associated with health benefits,” Warraich stated. But consuming too much coffee can have negative health effects and lead to dependence. Due to my hectic schedule as a doctor and researcher, cutting back on my consumption to only three cups per day can feel like a victory.”
The FDA advises healthy adults to limit their daily caffeine intake to 400 mg, or about four or five cups of coffee. Nonetheless, pregnant or nursing women should restrict their caffeine intake, as several medical conditions and drugs can increase your sensitivity to the effects of caffeine.
Then there is alcohol, of course. “Unfortunately, most of the recent data suggests alcohol in any amount can be harmful for heart health, and the risk increases with intake,”
Frequent alcohol use has been associated with elevated blood pressure, which may cause cardiac myopathy and raise our risk of heart attack. The CDC recommends that men and women each have no more than two drinks of alcohol per day.