5 things to avoid, according to a cardiologist

  • A cardiologist has shared the five habits she avoids to keep her heart as healthy as possible.
  • Dr. Nicole Harkin said she doesn’t vape and avoid interrupted sleep, when possible.
  • It’s never too early to adopt lifestyle habits that can improve heart health, said Harkin, 41.

A cardiologist has shared five habits she avoids to try to maintain a healthy heart.

Dr. Nicole Harkin, a cardiologist and founder of Whole Heart Cardiology, a preventive cardiology practice in California, told Insider that it’s never too early to adopt lifestyle habits that can improve heart health“and frankly general health.”

Harkin, 41, began examining the data behind making healthy lifestyle choices for heart disease prevention in her early 30s, during a cardiology fellowship.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the US About 20% of adults who died in 2020 from coronary artery disease, the most common form of heart disease in the US, were adults 65 and younger, he says.

While you can’t change factors like a person’s genetics, 80 percent of all heart attacks can be prevented with lifestyle choices, according to the World Health Organization.

Here are five things Harkin never does in order to keep his heart healthy.

eat red meat

Harkin said she initially started eating a vegetarian diet for animal rights reasons.

However, he later found that research showed a “pretty strong” link between red meat, specifically processed red meat, and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

“Personally I don’t consume any products of animal origin, but for others I would highlight avoiding red meat and processed red meat,” she said.

Harkin he said in a recent TikTok video than to regularly eat hot dogs, hamburgers, and luncheon meat “junk” The arteries.

Instead, Harkin said people should eat more fiber — found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.

“It helps regulate glucose, it helps lower cholesterol, and it usually comes in the form of plant foods that contain all these other amazing vitamins and minerals,” he said.

“I really work with my patients to try to get around 40 grams a day, because that’s the level where we really see reductions in glucose and cholesterol and things like that,” he said.

vape or smoke

Harkin said he doesn’t smoke cigarettes or vape.

“Almost all of the heart attacks that I’ve seen in young women are in women who smoke,” he said.

According to the American Heart Association “Use of inhaled nicotine delivery products, which includes traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and vaping, is the leading cause of preventable death in the US, including approximately one-third of all deaths from heart disease.”

have interrupted sleep

Harkin, a mother of three, said she “appreciates” sleep and seeks at least seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep a night, if possible. “Studies have really shown that not getting that kind of sleep is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease,” he said.

Harkin added that Obstructive sleep apneawhich is a sleep disorder when part or all of the upper airway becomes blocked while you sleep, it is strongly associated with heart problems such as irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure.

“If you snore or have unrefreshing sleep, morning headaches, or any other signs of Sleep apneagetting tested is a really important step for heart health,” he said.

rule out chest pain

Harkin said that although he doesn’t seem to have risk factor’s that cause heart disease like high blood pressure, I would never rule out chest pain if I experienced it.

“A shocking amount of heart attacks occur in people who would be considered low risk by traditional screening criteria,” he said, adding: “People are always much sicker when they come to the hospital after having chest pain for hours.”

jump exercise

Harkin said physical inactivity was one of the “major risk factors” for heart disease, so he would never skip exerciseeven when she is busy or tired.

“The research really supports the idea that a 10-minute walk is better than none and is helpful for heart health. So I wouldn’t let time be the limitation and the reason for not doing any type of movement or exercise,” he said. .

“If I could prescribe one thing for everyone, it would be exercise,” he added.

The AHA recommends that people get two and a half hours of “moderate” physical activity a week, such as dancing or gardening, or 75 minutes of “vigorous” exercise, such as jump the rope run or swim

Harkin approaches his lifestyle decisions from an overall body health perspective rather than focusing solely on weight loss, for example, by thinking, “What am I doing to nourish my body today?”

“A diet consisting solely of bacon and cigarettes might make you lose weight, but it’s certainly not good for your whole body or cardiovascular health,” he said.

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