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Fighting Heart Disease with Heart-healthy Living

Author: Rohit Sehgal, MD
Cardiology, Interventional Cardiology

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U. S., affecting over 121 million adults. Although the statistic is staggering, it is important to remember that heart disease is largely preventable. Learning to recognize and combat the key factors that contribute to heart disease — even the those that are beyond our control — is a step that everyone can take towards countering this alarming epidemic.

Reducing your risk of heart disease starts with understanding the common risk factors that contribute to it, and making the necessary changes to adopt a more heart-healthy lifestyle.

Heart-Healthy Living

Heart-healthy living involves understanding your personal level of risk, proactively checking your heart health with screenings, maintaining a proper diet, and getting plenty of exercise. Adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle will allow you to eliminate or avoid the controllable risk factors in your life, and can even have a positive impact on the uncontrollable factors, like family history or gene mutations.

Here are a few ways to start living a heart-healthy lifestyle:

  • Incorporate Regular Exercise – the American Heart Association recommends that adults get at least 120 combined minutes of aerobic exercise every week in order to lower their blood pressure and strengthen their heart. It can be helpful to stay active with a variety of exercises, and it is also encouraged to incorporate outdoor activities as often as possible.
  • Eat a Heart-healthy Diet – a heart-healthy diet is one that is low in carbohydrates, low in sodium, and high in fiber. Heart-healthy diets also include a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats like fish and chicken, and “good fats” like nuts, olive oil, or avocados, which contain healthy cholesterol. It can be helpful to work with a dietician or nutrition specialist, who can help you design a heart-healthy diet plan and support you as you adopt these changes.
  • Limit Tobacco and Alcohol – Those who smoke are at an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, and are also at a higher risk of a variety of other coronary diseases. The same can be said for those who consume excessive amounts of alcohol. It is recommended that adults limit their alcohol consumption.
  • Get Regular Heart-Health Screenings – Not all factors of our heart health are in our control. Family history and unique genetic makeups play a large role in a person’s heart health and their risk for heart disease. Talking with your doctor about your personal risk factors is extremely important, as he or she can help you assess these complications while navigating your best course of preventive treatment. It is also important to get regular heart-health screenings. Adults over the age of 20 should have their blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and triglyceride levels monitored at least once a year by their primary care physician.

The Washington Hospital medical staff includes a dedicated team of primary care physicians and skilled cardiologists who work diligently to provide patients with the tools and support they need to live heart-healthy lifestyles. Washington Hospital also hosts a series of Health & Wellness Seminars to educate and empower the Bay Area community on heart health and similar wellness topics.

Talk to your primary care provider about your risks for heart disease and the steps you can take to lower them, or visit the Washington Hospital website to learn more about our heart and vascular wellness program.

Posted February, 2020

About Rohit Sehgal, MD
Rohit Sehgal, MD, is board-certified in Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Disease, and Interventional Cardiology. He has been practicing clinical and interventional cardiology in the East and South Bay for over 20 years. Dr. Sehgal graduated from the All India Institute of Medical Science, New Delhi, India and came to the United States to complete his Internal Medicine Residency at Cook County Hospital in Illinois. Dr. Sehgal then completed his Internal Medicine residency in Detroit, Michigan, followed by two fellowship years in Cardiology and Invasive at Northwestern University in Chicago. He went on to complete a fourth-year fellowship in Interventional Cardiology in Portland, Oregon. Very active in the Washington Hospital Healthcare community, Dr. Sehgal currently serves as the Chief of the Cardiology section at Washington Hospital and is a well-respected member. He has served as the Chief of Cardiology at St. Rose Hospital and currently holds an Adjunct Professorship in Cardiovascular Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine.