Care for your heart every day: A cardiac expert tells you how and why

Cardiac conditions have seen a significant spike recently, steering attention to how people can take care of their heart with simple lifestyle changes.
A sedentary lifestyle is not good for your heart. Image courtesy: Dr Aparna Jaswal.
Dr Aparna Jaswal Updated: 30 Oct 2023, 01:56 pm IST
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  1. What has been the contribution of female cardiologists and how they have been able to create a massive impact in the field of medicine and bring positive changes to the lives of their patients?

In a field typically dominated by men, pioneering women have brought diversity and innovation to cardiovascular medicine, enriching heart health and patient care. Even though half of all medical students and over 40% of internal medicine residents are women, the number of women in the field of cardiology remains abysmally low.

Female cardiologists hence remained a rarity, with the first women physicians training during the 19th century. These early women physicians were determined to serve and broke down traditions and barriers to enter medical schools, crossing such hurdles. Women contribute to a very small fraction in this specialty while women represent about 40% of all admission to MBBS. Only 15% opt for Internal Medicine further a measure of 8% embrace cardiology. It is important to increase women’s representation in sub-specialty.

2. What are some common heart-related conditions that people should be aware of post-Covid? And, what precautions should be taken for the same?

There are many symptoms reported in the post-Covid period, and there are multiple potential causes for these symptoms. Severe fatigue is common after infection with the coronavirus, just as it is after any serious illness. Many people experience shortness of breath, chest pain or palpitations. Any of these problems could be related to the heart, but they could also be due to other factors, including the aftermath of being very ill, prolonged inactivity and spending weeks convalescing in bed. One should go and see the cardiologist if they experience any of these symptoms.

3. What should be some go-to tips for everyday cardiac care? How often should a person visit a cardiologist for regular check-ups?

• Snap out of a sedentary lifestyle and exercise regularly
• Consume healthy fats
• Do not smoke
• Maintain a healthy weight
• Reduce alcohol intake
• Have a low salt and low sugar diet
• Keep stress under control
• Have regular checkups done

4. What are some common myths related to cardiac health and age?

• I am too young to worry about heart disease.
• I would know if I had high blood pressure because there would be warning signs.
• It’s okay to have higher blood pressure when you are older.
• You can lower your risk of heart disease with vitamins and supplements.
• If you have heart disease, you should eat as little fat as possible.
• I will know when I am having a heart attack because I will have chest pain.
• Diabetes won’t threaten my heart as long as I take my medication.
• Heart disease runs in my family, so there is nothing I can do to prevent it.
• I don’t need to have my cholesterol checked until I am middle-aged.
• Heart failure means the heart stops beating.
• My heart is beating really fast. I must be having a heart attack.
• I should avoid exercise after having a heart attack.
• I have smoked for years, there is no point stopping now
• Heart disease only really affects men
• Cardiac arrest and heart attack are the same

5. What can be some indicators to detect a heart attack early?

• Pressure, tightness, pain, or a squeezing or aching sensation in your chest or arms that may spread to your neck, jaw or back
• Nausea, indigestion, heartburn or abdominal pain
• Shortness of breath
• Cold sweat
• Fatigue
• Light-headedness or sudden dizziness

6. How can one take care of themselves in order to reduce the chances of a heart attack?

• Do not smoke
• Control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels
• Check for and manage diabetes
• Get regular physical exercise
• Maintain a healthy weight
• Eat a heart-healthy diet
• Control your stress level
• Adhere to your medications
• Maintain regular contact with your doctor

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About the Author

Dr Aparna JaswalM.D (Internal Medicine)DNB Cardiology Gold MedalistCertified Cardiac Device Specialist (CCDS)Fellow of Heart Rhythm Society, USAFellow of American College & CardiologyIBHRE –HRS – World AmbassadorDirector CardiologistDepartment of Cardiac Pacing & Electrophysiology Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, Okhla Road, New DelhiMobile: 9818797594Email ID:  ...Read More

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