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Heart Disease prevention Staying Healthy is Gold

Heart Disease prevention  – Staying Healthy is Gold

written By Dr. Peter Wong

(last updated on Oct 12th 2020)

Most of us are born healthy, so staying healthy makes perfect sense.  How?  Decades of medical advance have added to existing knowledge, staying healthy boils down to 3 main areas for consideration – Exercise, Diet and most critically, How We adhere to these disciplines.

We all know Exercise is good for us.  A sound and practical recommendation is 2.5 hr moderate level of aerobic exercise per week, spreading out in multiple sessions during the week.  Each session aims for 10-30 minutes or more of aerobic exercise such as brisk walking, swimming or cycling, with heart rate increasing to ~70% of our maximum heart rate [(220 – your age) x 70%].  Regular exercise lowers our chance of dying from circulatory diseases such as a heart attack by 20-30%.  2.5 hr of moderate exercise is the basic requirement to stay healthy, and this is applicable to most of us including our older children.  For people who are not used to exercise regularly or vigorously, or have pre-existing medical conditions eg. multiple cardiovascular risk factors – Hypertension, Diabetes Mellitus, Hyperlipidaemia, Heart Surgery, they benefit from a Cardiac Specialist assessment and a well-structured exercise programme led by a dedicated Physiotherapist.

Food and drink contain essential nutrients and calories for our body.  The amount of calories from food and drink is an important and often missed consideration.  Excess calories end up as excess body fat – under the skin as subcutaneous fat, and in/around internal organs as visceral fat.   It is common to hear people saying that they have not successfully lost weight despite eating less.  In order to lose excess body fat, people need to have a calorie deficit diet, such that the body can burn off more calories than the consumed amount.  We cannot trump the benefits of exercise over food indulgence or indiscretion, which commonly ends up with excess calories.  Having a Dietitian program can ease the transition to a healthier diet.

Different cultures dictate their own culinary practices.  Common denominators for a healthy diet are: less salt and more herbs, healthy oil such as olive or rapeseed, less meat especially red meat, less fat especially saturated or hydrogenated fat, more fish especially oily fish, more vegetables, and more fruits without a high level of sugars.  Substituting excess calories with green leafy vegetables is both practical and beneficial in lowering the risk of death and having cancer.  A good food model is the Mediterranean diet which encompasses all the above ingredients.  Moreover, take advantage of the practice of having a longer meal time, not just to enjoy food but also to slow the absorption of nutrients.  Take care of drinks as they can present us with sugar challenge.  Water is best.  Teach our children to love drinking water which can come in a variety of taste depending on source, temperature, fizz and try added flavours.

We are the master of our own body, and exercising control in Diet and Exercise are absolutely our own responsibility.  We must train ourselves up in this Cardiac Principle and share this with everyone, our spouse, children, family and friends.  The disciplines of eating, drinking, exercise and being a doer (not just a hearer) for these healthy practices shall award you and those you love with a much better chance for a healthy life.

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1. CVD prevention in clinical practice (European Guidelines On). ESC Clinical Practice Guidelines 2016.

2. Aune D, Giovannucci E, Boffetta P, et al. Fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all cause mortality–a systematic review and dose response meta-analysis of prospective studies. International Journal of Epidemiology, 2017, 1–28. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyw319.

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