5 tips for a heart healthy lifestyle
With the passing of Carrie Fisher and other celebrities this year from heart issues, we asked a leading cardiologist to offer advice on what we can do to prevent it.
As we look back at 2016, we remember all the people who passed away due to heart disease: Carrie Fisher, Garry Shandling, Alan Thicke, Nancy Reagan, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Natalie Cole and Florence Henderson just to name a few.
As we head into 2017, we turned for advice to Professor Michael Glikson, one of the leading cardiologists in Israel and the president of the Israeli Heart Society. Glickson, who studied at the Mayo Clinic in the U.S., is the head of the Department of Electrophysiology and Pacemakers at the Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv.
We asked Glickson for some tips on how to stay heart healthy in the new year.
Get your blood pressure checked
There are several risk factors for heart diseases, and one of them is having high blood pressure. Glickson recommends getting checked regularly – which you can do at a doctor's office or at your local pharmacy. If there's an issue, make sure it gets addressed in a timely manner. Meditation and other stress-reduction techniques are good places to start. But if that doesn't work, your doctor can prescribe medicine to help keep your blood pressure under control and in the proper range.
Eat a heart healthy diet
Glikson is a big proponent of the Mediterranean diet, which consists mainly of protein-and fiber-rich fish, nuts, fruits, vegetables and olive oil. It's good for our brains, can lower our cholesterol and is a powerful tool in cancer prevention. Several celebrities – including Rachael Ray and Penélope Cruz – swear by the diet. Actor John Goodman lost 100 pounds following the Mediterranean diet. Not to mention it's one of the few diets that will actually save you money at the grocery store. Glickson believes it's a reason why Israel has one of the lowest mortality rates from heart diseases of any country in the world.
Exercise, exercise, exercise
Glikson said the current recommendation is to engage in at least 150 minutes a week of aerobic exercise – which comes to about 30 minutes a day, five days a week. It doesn't have to be anything fancy like going to the gym. Indeed there are lots of exercises you can do in the comfort of your own home, even without a treadmill. And be diligent when it comes to preventing injuries. You don't want a broken bone to sideline you for months.
It can be hard to quit, but the future version of you will be thankful. (Photo: Photosani/Shutterstock)
One of the major risk factors for cardiac diseases is smoking. "It's very important to quit smoking altogether," Glikson told From The Grapevine. There are several ways to tackle this problem – from patches and gum to pills and behavior modification. There's even a brain helmet that might do the trick. "If you stimulate regions in the brain that are associated with craving for drugs, you can change the circuitry in the brain that mediates this dependence and eventually reduce smoking," said Professor Abraham Zangen, a brain scientist at Israel's Ben-Gurion University who helped to invent the helmet.
Be an optimist
We all know there's power in positive thinking, but is it powerful enough to keep you alive? A new study says that's exactly what it takes to survive after a heart attack – along with good medical care and a few lifestyle changes. Research done by Dr. Yariv Gerber, a colleague of Glickson's at Tel Aviv University, shows that optimistic people are more likely to live longer after their first heart attack than people who have a more pessimistic disposition. “It is important to note that optimism is not simply a rosy glow over the world; in contrast, optimists are more likely to acknowledge risks and plan how to cope with them,” Gerber told Reuters.
MORE FROM THE GRAPEVINE: