We recently interviewed PAGNY Cardiologist Rosy Thachil, MD, FACC, Associate Director, Cardiac Intensive Care Unit Division of Cardiology, Jacobi Medical Center for American Heart Month.
Q – How do you celebrate National Heart Month and how it differs from other months
A – Though heart health is important at all times, we use February as a time to highlight the extensive burden of cardiovascular disease! In the United States. It is the leading cause of death for both men and women. According to the CDC, one person dies every 36 seconds from cardiovascular disease.
Q – Do you have any advice and tips for patients to prevent heart diseases and improve their health?
A – About 80% of cardiovascular disease can be prevented.
This means that heart health is intimately related to our lifestyle and day to day choices.
A few tips:
- Exercise! The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity. With pandemic and work from home life, our lives have become increasingly sedentary–it is important to get up and move.
- Heart-healthy dietary choices. Emphasize the vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fiber, fish, nuts, and legumes. Minimize the red meats, sweets, sodium, and saturated fats
- Quit smoking!
- Manage any medical conditions you may have (particularly diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol). Take your medications as prescribed, and visit your physician regularly.
- Know your family history!
- Practice good sleep hygiene and manage stress
As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of intervention.
Q – How is COVID-19 affecting heart disease and what can people do?
A – We have seen that some patients who develop COVID also have cardiac involvement. The degree and nature of involvement is quite variable. And we also see that patients with preexisting heart disease are at higher risk for poor outcomes from COVID.
The best thing we can do at the present time is to adhere to our public health measures (masking, social distancing, avoiding large gatherings, washing hands/using sanitizer). It has been an exhausting time for everyone and we may be tempted to loosen up, but it’s important to stay vigilant about these public health measures. The NY dept of health website (ny.health.gov) is a great resource of information.
Finally, this has been a difficult time for us as a society and as a healthcare community. It is important to manage stress and check in on your mental health. Interestingly, both stress and poor mental health can have negative impacts on our cardiovascular system.