A cardiologist has shared the ways he lowers his risk for heart disease.
The doctor takes statins, a cholesterol reducing prescription drug, and exercises everyday.
Though Sandeep Jauhar, a New York-based cardiologist who authored a book on the topic, Heart: A History, is at a higher risk as a South Asian American, the cardiologist shared three ways everyone can reduce their own risk, including ways he does so himself:
Statins can reduce the risk of heart attacks or strokes in high-risk people. As someone who is at a higher risk for heart disease, Jauhar takes statins, a prescription pill that prevents your body from making a type of cholesterol that can cause plaque to build up in your arteries.
“There’s some benefit to taking drugs for primary prevention, especially when you have significant risk factors like being of South Asian descent,” he said.
Countless studies indicate more exercise can improve heart health for everyone
Statins are the only cholesterol-lowering drugs directly associated with reduced risks for heart attacks or strokes, and randomized trial data suggests the drugs reduce the risk of cardiovascular events by about 25%.
Statins are recommended for people between 40 and 75 years of age who have at least a 7.5% risk of getting cardiovascular disease in the next 10 years. A cardiologist can help you determine if you have high enough risk, Jauhar said.
The cardiologist goes on a run everyday to cope with stress. Jauhar said though he did not grow up particularly athletic, he has prioritized running in his adulthood and does it every day.
Countless studies indicate more exercise can improve heart health for everyone. People who do any kind of muscle-strengthening exercise for 30 to 60 minutes per week were significantly less likely to die from heart disease in one 2022 study. Another paper, published in 2016 in the journal Circulation, found young women who spent more than 150 minutes of their free time exercising had about a 25% lower risk for coronary heart disease.
Cut down on deep fried snacks and desserts
Jauhar reserves deep fried snacks and desserts for special occasions. Jauhar said he eats a Mediterranean diet, which research has consistently shown can reduce the risk for chronic disease and overall mortality.
His diet consists of fish, nuts, legumes, olive oil, fruits and vegetables. He tends not to eat processed food, and opts for dishes that “look like whole foods.”
Jauhar said the traditional South Asian diet could contribute to heart disease risk, as dishes might have overcooked vegetables and excess oil or ghee, but these theories are “speculative” without more research.
But the cardiologist added he’ll have a bowl of ice cream if he wants to: “I’m not perfect.”
Overall, if you are concerned about your risk for heart disease, Jauhar recommends visiting a cardiologist who can run tests to check for abnormalities in your blood and arteries, and who can talk about lifestyle changes specific to you.