5 Ways to Increase Your Heart Health with Dr. Prerana A. Manohar

by Megan Martin

This February, as you are investing in your heart’s emotional well-being, don’t forget to tend to your heart’s physical health. Dr. Prerana A. Manohar, leading cardiologist and medical director of the Heart and Wellness Institute, shares five tips to help you ensure your cardio health is up to par.

1. Exercise – more than just running.

Manohar advises combining your regular cardio routine with mild to moderate weight resistance training as the best possible regimen.

“You get additional, non-cardiac benefits from weight resistance training, but it also actually improves heart conditioning,” Manohar said.

Manohar recommends consulting a physician before starting a new exercise routine.

2. Fiber is key.

Foods that are high in fiber are exactly what you want to incorporate into your diet, as fiber works to eliminate cholesterol from your body.

“Fiber is a binder, so it binds the cholesterol we are eating,” Manohar explained.

High-fiber foods include anything with whole grains, such as oatmeal, corn, brown rice, bulgur and quinoa. These foods can improve blood cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

3. Load up on antioxidants.

“We don’t want the inside of our vessels to corrode,” Manohar said. “We are exposed to things everyday that are full of oxidative stress and free radicals. Antioxidents help to prevent that—they are like antirust for our vessels.”

Bright, flavorful fruits like blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and cranberries, as well as vegetables like kale, spinach, beans, artichokes and even cocoa are rich in antioxidants.

4. Avoid salt, sugar and caffeine.

Most of us are aware that salt and sugar are main culprits of heart disease, but Manohar noted that caffeine is an often-overlooked contender.

“Too much caffeine for some individuals can cause heart rhythm abnormalities and can increase adrenaline, which can produce heart events,” Manohar said.

If you can’t wake up in the morning without a cup of Joe, that’s OK, as one to two cups per day won’t have a dramatic impact on your system. More than that though could increase your risk of coronary heart disease.

5. Relax.

The better you manage your stress, the less your chances are of experiencing some of the many problems that Manohar sees, such as coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, heart rhythm abnormalities, palpitations and valve disease.

“I advise people to put their feet up and close their eyes for 20 minutes everyday,” Manohar shared. “It is the hardest thing to do sometimes, but that informal mediation has been show to decrease cortisol levels and decrease heart events in patients that have had prior bypass surgery.”

Dr. Manohar noted that women face different symptoms than men when it comes to heart disease. While men might experience typical chest pain, women might experience jaw pain, arm pain, back pain, indigestion, sudden onset tiredness and unexplained sweats. If you are alone and you think you may be having a heart attack, call 911 immediately.

“Call 911 before you call anyone else,” Manohar said. “After you make that call, chew an adult aspirin so that you absorb it and lie down.”

Manohar emphasizes that it is never too early to start preventing heart disease.

“Awareness makes all difference and could save your life.”

“Call 911 before you call anyone else,” Manohar said. “After you make that call, chew an adult aspirin so that you absorb it and lie down.”


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