Watch your Micro-Nutrient intake

Micronutrients play a crucial role in human nutrition, particularly in the prevention and treatment of various diseases. Though they are needed only in small amounts, these substances are essential to produce enzymes and hormones and regulate all body functions. Micronutrient deficiencies if left untreated can lead to symptoms and ailments of many organs including the heart and blood vessels. In other words, sufficient micronutrient intake in our daily diet helps to maintain cardiac function and to prevent many common health problems faced by people today.
Now let us take a detailed look at of some of the micronutrients known to impact heart health and also learn how to include them in our everyday cooking.

Magnesium is essential for the proper functioning of heart, muscles, kidneys, and other organs in the body. Magnesium deficiency is associated with higher blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. You should include varieties of nuts and legumes in your diet to avoid magnesium deficiency. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of Magnesium is 340 mg/day for men and 310 mg/day for women.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in few foods. It is also produced endogenously when ultraviolet rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis. Low levels of Vitamin D increases the risk of hypertension and diabetes, both known to cause cardiovascular disease. Intake of vitamin D-rich foods will help lower your risk of coronary heart disease. The RDA of Vitamin D is 400 IU/day.

Calcium is the key micronutrient for healthy bone and teeth. It also helps our heart, muscles, and nerves to work well. Calcium deficiency is associated with abnormal heart rhythm, also known as arrhythmia. Higher intake of calcium from food sources is known to lower the risk of atherosclerosis and maintain normal beating and pumping actions of the heart. RDA of Calcium is 600 mg/day.

Potassium helps the heart muscle to pump blood effectively throughout the body. Taking a good amount of potassium-rich foods will improve your blood pressure, lower your cholesterol and regulate your heartbeat. Low levels of potassium could cause heart rhythm disturbances and muscle weakness. RDA of potassium is 3750 mg/day for men and 3225 mg/day for women.

B vitamins like vitamin B9, B6, B12 have been linked to a healthy heart rhythm and lack of these can cause palpitation. Sources of folate (B9) include vegetables, fruits, whole or enriched grains, beans, and legumes. Pyridoxine (B6) sources include fish, vegetables, liver, meats and whole grain. RDA of Folic acid-vitamin Bis 200 mg/day, Cobalamin-vitamin B12 is 1 mg/day and Pyridoxine-vitamin B6 is 2 mg/day.

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant; it has the ability to block the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals may accelerate ageing and contribute to the development of atherosclerosis. It’s through this antioxidant effect that vitamin C has an influence on heart health. RDA of Vitamin C is 40 mg/day.

This table gives the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for 100 grams of edible portion of these food substances. 

Note: We recommend adequate intake of natural foods containing the above micronutrients. We do not advise the use of commercially available supplements. If you have any health concerns, please follow the dietary advise of your healthcare provider or contact us for assistance.


Mindfulness for better health outcomes

Some of you might have come across the word ‘mindfulness’ while it might be new for others. In this post, I would like to throw some light on what mindfulness means and how it can positively impact our health.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness simply refers to being aware or mindful of our everyday moments. It is the opposite of dwelling in the past and planning for the future. It is living in the present. We often hear things like “be mindful of what you say”, “time is precious, be mindful of what you do with it” and “pay attention to your thoughts for negative thoughts can harm you”. It just means being more aware of our words, our actions and our thoughts, so that we harness their positive power and avoid their negative impact

How to practice mindfulness?

Now that you know what mindfulness is, can you think of some ways you can apply it to improve your overall health? Let me walk you through 5 proven ways.

  • Mindful eating
  • Mindful breathing
  • Mindful exercising
  • Mindful thinking
  • Mindful interacting

Mindful eating

‘We are what we eat’ is a famous quote. That is exactly why we should be fully aware of what we eat and how much we eat. Eating slowly, that is chewing food properly and relishing what we eat, is an integral aspect of good health. And most importantly, are we enjoying what we eat? Or is it just another mundane routine that gets done every day? By the way, there are no mundane routines in the world of mindfulness. When we pay a little more attention to whatever we do and apply our minds to make it enjoyable, it ceases to be a mundane routine and starts to excite us!

Mindful breathing

Our previous blog post on proper breathing techniques for individuals with heart and lung ailments is proven to work wonders for just about anybody and everybody. It is a slow and deep breathing process that all of us can easily follow. It reinforces the fact that even breathing, which we hardly ever pay attention to, if done mindfully is a powerful tool against illness.

Mindful exercising

Exercise – some of us do it for the sake of ticking it off on our daily agenda while some of us enjoy the process of working out. Guess you know by now which of the two groups is likely to reap the full benefits of exercise. A simple activity like walking to the neighbourhood grocery store can become a mini work-out if done mindfully. Yes, even a 10-minute walk done at a brisk pace with good arm swing and synchronised breathing can rejuvenate the mind and body, as compared to a lethargic purposeless walk with a ‘why do I have to do this’ attitude which can drain us of our energy.

Mindful thinking

Thoughts arising from our mind may be positive or negative. The first step to mindful thinking is simply realising which of our thoughts are positive and have a positive influence on our well-being, and which are negative with a negative influence on our health and well-being. The second step is being grateful for and reinforcing the positive thoughts while trying to find a solution or working our way out of the negative situations that give rise to those negative thoughts. Meditation is a strong and effective technique proven to help people find the mind-body alignment needed for mindfulness and holistic well-being. We will dwell on this in a future blog.

Mindful interacting

When it comes to interacting with strangers or not-so-close people, we seem to have mastered the technique of a mindful approach. Moreover, if it is someone we need to impress, we are on our best behaviour giving all the attention to that person. On the contrary, we are slipping up on the everyday opportunities to interact deeply and renew our relationships with our near and dear ones. We could blame it on technological advancements, fast paced life, a highly demanding society and so on and so forth, but the solution is simple, take time for your loved ones and don’t take them for granted.

At Cardiac Wellness Institute, we work closely with men and women of all walks of life, inculcating this habit of mindfulness to improve cardiac function and overall well-being.



Breathing right is the secret to a long life

Breathing or Respiration is not just the single most important bodily function but it is the essence of life. The lungs are the main organs of respiration. They are equipped with gas exchange mechanisms that effectively allow oxygen from the inhaled air to enter the blood and carbon dioxide from the blood to diffuse into the air we breathe out. The heart works closely with the lungs to circulate the oxygenated or pure blood throughout the body and to pump the impure blood back to the lungs

Do you know what ‘lung capacity’ is? It is the total amount of air that your lungs can hold at a given point in time. Our lung capacity and lung function typically decrease as our age increases. Some heart and lung conditions can significantly speed up these reductions in lung capacity and functioning leading to difficulty in breathing and shortness of breathDuring exercise, the heart and the lungs work much harder to provide the extra oxygen we need. Breathing exercises are designed to retrain the muscle of respiration and improve gas exchange and oxygenationThis type of exercise also improves the overall endurance and ability to do activities of daily living.

Breathing consists of two parts:

  • Inhalation (breathing in)
  • Exhalation (breathing out)

Proper breathing should be deep, slow, rhythmic and done through the nose. Breathe in slowly and imagine your lungs filling up with air, your chest slightly widens, your diaphragm pulls your chest cavity down and your belly button pulls away from your spine as you breathe in. When your lungs are full, breath out slowly and pull your belly button back in towards your spine to push out all of the air from the lungs.

Who can do?

All individuals with heart and lung ailments; and healthy individuals.


  • Improves ventilation
  • Improves strength, endurance and coordination of respiratory muscles
  • Improves chest and thoracic spine mobility
  • Corrects inefficient and abnormal breathing patterns
  • Improves overall functional capacity
  • Promotes relaxation


  • Quiet area
  • Remove restrictive clothing
  • Comfortable and relax position sitting, standing or lying
  • Never do forced exhalation(breathing out slowly just enough to empty your lungs)



Diaphragmatic breathing                                                                                          

  • Relax your shoulders and sit back or lie down
  • Place one hand on your belly and one on your chest
  • Breathe in through your nose, feeling the air move into your abdomen and feeling your stomach move out, your stomach should move more than your chest does
  • Breathe out through your mouth while pressing on your abdomen
  • Repeat


Pursed-lips breathing                                                                                                                                                                                         

  • Inhale slowly through your nostrils
  • Purse your lips, as if pouting or about to blow on something
  • Breathe out as slowly as possible through pursed lips, this should take at least twice as long as it did to breathe in
  • Repeat.


Take a deep breath and just enjoy your life

A guide to healthy eating for older adults

Eating the right type of food, staying fit and having a healthy lifestyle are important no matter what your age. As you get older your body has different needs, so certain nutrients become especially important for good health. This blog post will help you to understand some basic facts about the foods we eat which in turn will help you to select the right kinds of foods in the right amounts to stay healthy and fit. So if you are above 50 years or nearing the half century mark, take note of these dietary tips!
Old age is neither a disease nor a disorder; it is a biological process that everyone goes through. A little care is all you need to enjoy the aging process. Age-related health problems like obesity, hypertension, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, joint pains, dementia and cancers can be controlled and even prevented by modifying your diet.

Special Nutrient Needs for Older Adults

Calcium and Vitamin D
Older adults need about 600mg of calcium and 400IUof Vitamin D on a daily basis to help support bone health. It is advisable to increase the intake of calcium-rich foods like milk, milk products like paneer and curd, green leafy vegetables and sesame seeds. Low-fat milk and milk products made from low-fat milk should be used. Exposure to sunlight should be part of your daily agenda; if you are unable to go outdoors regularly, you might want to discuss vitamin D supplementation with your doctor.

Iron and Vitamin B12
It is common that seniors do not get enough iron and vitamin B12 because of poor nutrient absorption in the body. Anaemia or reduced haemoglobin is a nutritional problem in old age caused by low iron and/or vitamin B12 levels leading to weakness, tiredness and breathlessness. You should include green leafy vegetables, fresh fruits, jaggery, rice flakes, millets, fortified cereals, milk products, lean meat and seafood in your daily diet to prevent deficiency.

Regular intake of 40gms of fibre-rich foods will help to lower your risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Eating whole-grain bread and cereals, and more beans and peas along with fruits and vegetables is a great way to ensure fibre intake.
Tip: the skin is often the most fibre-rich portion so avoid peeling if possible. If you’re worried about dirt and chemicals, soak the whole vegetable/fruit in warm salt water for 30 minutes before eating, chopping or cooking.

Sodium and Potassium
Reducing sodium (salt) intake to 2500mg/day reduces your risk of high blood pressure. Fruits, vegetables and low-fat or fat-free milk and yoghurt are good sources of potassium, which you may consume liberally. Also, preparing food with minimal salt, avoiding the salt shaker during meals and refraining from buying packet foods are great ways to keep away the excess salt.

Foods that are low in saturated fats and trans fat will help in reducing your risk of heart disease. Most of the fats you choose should be polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats which you get from vegetable oils like sunflower oil, rice bran oil, olive oil etc. Oil intake per day should not exceed 25gms (4-5teaspoons).

Many degenerative age-related diseases and disorders cause dehydration in older persons. Older adults should keep in mind that they need about 30 ml/kg (1800 to 2000 ml) of fluids per day. Fluids refer to all liquids consumed such as milk, juices, soft drinks, soup, tea and coffee. However, tea and coffee should be taken in moderate amounts only.

5 Things to remember about a routine health check

A routine medical examination is something we all need to have every year after the age of 40. This is the only way to catch cardiovascular risk factors early and take preventive measures before heart disease strikes. But there are so many different health check packages available that most people are confused as to which tests to go for. If you’d like to get some clarity on this, do take a few minutes to read this post.

  1. Health-related behavior

It is imperative to know if you’re eating a balanced diet, exercising adequately, sleeping well, keeping away from tobacco products and excessive alcohol and are free from psychosocial problems like chronic stress, anxiety and depression. Since assessment of these behavioral aspects has to be done objectively and without bias, it is best left to your healthcare professional.

  1. Simple but vital numbers

Some things are very easy to keep track of: your weight, your body mass index, your waist and hip circumferences, your breath rate, heart rate and your blood pressure. It will take you less than 5 minutes to measure and note down all these simple but salient markers of heart health. Blood pressure measurement can be done at home if you own a digital blood pressure monitor.

  1. Blood tests

Blood sugar and cholesterol levels should be measured empty stomach after an overnight fast. Hemoglobin level in the blood needs to be checked regularly as anemia (low blood hemoglobin) is a frequently missed but easily treatable cause of illness.

  1. Electrocardiogram

An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is a non-invasive test whereby the electrical activity of the heart is studied while you lie down comfortably. Abnormal waveforms in the ECG are quite often the first clue to serious heart conditions. Your physician will be able to assess your health with all these parameters and will also request for some symptom-guided tests if necessary.


5. Symptom-guided tests

Let us say you have noted some difficulties in performing your daily activities or are experiencing joint pains or have frequent heartburns; then one or more special tests such as stress test (also called treadmill test, TMT) and echocardiogram may be needed to better understand your health status. An annual dental and eye examination is a must for all, even if there are no complaints.

Remember these 5 things when you’re due for your next health check. They go hand in hand to throw light on your heart health as well as your overall wellness. In addition to this, regular screening tests such as Pap smear and mammogram in women and PSA level (prostate specific antigen) in men is a must.

There are hormonal assays, vitamin D levels and bone scans, ultrasound scans, renal and liver function tests and several other panels of investigations, which are to be called for only when you have specific complaints. Getting them done on a routine basis is unwarranted.

At Cardiac Wellness Institute, prevention of cardiovascular disease is our primary goal. If you have any queries or concerns pertaining to your routine health check up, you may talk to us or email us (for contact details see

Your first step to a healthy heart

Exercise is the best tool to live healthy; that too aerobic exercise plays a major role in strengthening the heart without stressing your body much. Aerobic exercise is the key for a long and healthy life. Aerobic activities improve the pumping capacity of the heart and make all your organs to work in a more efficient way.

What is Aerobic Exercise?

Aerobic exercise is defined as continuous movement of the body with moderate exertion for a long duration of time. These types of exercises, when practiced regularly prevent and control cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension, stroke and heart attack, as well other chronic ailments. The unique characteristics of aerobic exercises are:

  • Large muscle groups are used in our body
  • It delivers oxygen faster to the working muscles
  • It is a rhythmic sustained type of exercise less prone to injuries

Benefits of Aerobic Exercise

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Lowers resting heart rate
  • Improves functional capacity
  • Reduces shortness of breath
  • Improves cardio respiratory endurance
  • Improves heart and lung function
  • Reduces obesity
  • Improves quality of life
  • Reduces joint pains
  • Increases bone density and strength
  • Improves mental health
  • Prevents many cancers
  • Enables healthy aging

 Examples of Aerobic exercise

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Types of Aerobic Exercises

  • Continuous: Exercise should be done continuously for particular duration
  • Interval: Exercise should be done with proper rest periods for particular duration
  • Circuit: Series of exercises are repeated for particular duration
  • Circuit interval: Series of exercises repeated for particular duration with proper rest periods

How to start Aerobic Exercises?

Begin slowly and progress gradually.

Start with 5-10 min of aerobic exercise for 3-5 days/ week and progress to 5-7 days/week.

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Individuals with the following conditions should seek the advice of their doctor before beginning any exercise plan:

  • Uncontrolled hypertension
  • Myocardial infarction (heart attack, bypass surgery, stent procedure)
  • Chest pain or unexplained breathlessness
  • Fainting or giddiness
  • Cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease)
  • Heart failure
  • Heart valve problems
  • Any cardiac surgery or procedure

If you would like to know more about what type of exercise is best suited for your health condition, please feel free to reach out to us by email or by phone +9144 43192828, +91 9940408828.

Don’t find time to exercise?

Make time for exercise!


Fats are healthy too!

What are fats?
Dietary fats are the major source of energy for a day’s activities and they also support cell growth. They help protect organs and maintain body warmth. Fats are essential for our body to absorb some nutrients and to produce important hormones. Dietary fats may be saturated (solid at room temperature) or unsaturated (liquid at room temperature).
Fat does not directly make you “fat” – only the excess calories will make you “fat”. It’s about getting the right balance.

What are the types of fats in food?



Why do we need fats?
• Source of energy – Our body uses the fat we eat and converts it into energy

• Essential fatty acids (EFA) – Fats that are essential for growth, development and cell functions that cannot be synthesised by our body but have to be consumed in our diet

• Proper functioning of nerves and brain – Fats are part of myelin, a fatty material which surrounds our nerve cells and enables transmission of electrical impulse

• Maintaining healthy skin and other tissues – All our body cells need some fats as essential parts of cell membranes

• Transporter of fat-soluble vitamins – Vitamins A, D, E and K are transported through the bloodstream with the help of fats

• Component of hormones –  Steroids and other important hormones are made up of fats

How much fat do we need?

The total fat in the diet should provide between 20-30% of our daily calorie intake. Adults with normal daily physical activity can consume upto 25 g (5 tsp /day) of fat, while an individual with high physical activity requires 30 – 40 g of visible fat. However, too much fat is not conducive to good health.

For individuals with coronary heart disease, the daily fat intake should be limited as per their health condition.

So, what is cholesterol, do we need it?

Yes, we need cholesterol. Cholesterol is present only in animal products such as milk, meat, egg and ghee, but not in plant foods. Vegetable oils and nuts do not contain Cholesterol. Cholesterol is found in all cells of our body and plays an important role in the formation of brain and nervous tissue. Apart from cholesterol in the food we eat, our liver also synthesizes cholesterol. Of the various forms of cholesterol, the high density lipoproteins (HDL) are the good cholesterol and have cardio protective effect. HDL is purely synthesized by our liver. So, to answer the question “do we need to take in cholesterol in our food”, the answer is no. Endogenous cholesterol or cholesterol produced by our liver is sufficient.

How to ensure healthy fat intake?
Fats can be taken in the form of oil in our daily diet. Always choose oil labelled us MUFA or PUFA and preferably vegetable oil. While it is recommended to consume small amounts of different oils on a daily basis, do not mix the different types of oils; instead keep them in separate containers and use for different purposes. Never cook with reheated oils as it converts healthy fats into unhealthy trans fats. Trans fats lead to accelerated aging, obesity, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, heart attack and stroke.

How to select and store Cooking Oils?

1. While selecting oil for cooking, always choose oils rich in monounsaturated fats ( Groundnut oil, Ricebran oil) instead of saturated fats (Ghee , Butter) and polyunsaturated fats(Sunflower, Red palm oil) because the former is rich in cholesterol and the latter is not stable at high temperatures.

2. Try to avoid frying, particularly at high temperatures. Frying the food in oil at high temperature causes oxidation of fats which is very unhealthy.

3. Purchase small quantities of oils at a time, that way we will most likely use them before they turn rancid.
4. Heat, oxygen and light cause oxidative damage of cooking oils. Therefore to protect oils from oxidation, it is important to keep them in an air tight container and place them in a cool, dry and dark place.

Beware: Stress can kill

What is stress?

The word stress has become synonymous with mental stress, which is nothing but a psychological imbalance triggered by environmental factors. We’ve all experienced one or more stressful situations during our lifetime – work deadlines, competitive exams, lack of support, financial crisis, separation of a loved one, family pressure – and so on and so forth. The question at hand is “can these be life-threatening?” And the answer is “yes”.

Let me explain myself. Stress can be acute or chronic; positive or negative; obvious or hidden and, most importantly, well-managed or poorly-managed. In other words, stress can be benign when short-lived, constructive, identified, acknowledged and appropriately managed. And malignant when not.

Stress and the heart

There are 9 modifiable risk factors for heart attack of which stress (grouped under psychosocial factors) is the most sinister; it is not only the most difficult to diagnose but also the only factor that can potentially cause all of the other factors (all 8 of them shown in the image below; you can enlarge the image by clicking on it).

Stress can kill

And there are 2 other important mechanisms of stress induced heart disease namely coronary vasospasm and stress cardiomyopathy. We will discuss these entities in a separate blog post.

A real-life example

We recently provided cardiac rehab for a 44-year-old gentleman who had suffered a critical heart attack and had undergone angioplasty with stenting. He came to us 2 weeks after discharge and was very worried about his health. Both he and his wife were confused, anxious and upset. They were concerned about the future of their family, which included 2 young children and elderly parents. We began by explaining to them the cause for his heart attack; his lifestyle risk factors were lack of exercise and unhealthy eating habits, his metabolic risk factors were obesity, dyslipidemia and diabetes and his newly-diagnosed risk factor was uncontrolled severe stress related to the financial woes of his construction business. The point that these were all modifiable risk factors and that he could lead a very healthy and normal life moving forward was their only consolation. And he was determined to do all he could to ensure a strong heart and a good health, for his own sake and that of his family. And so began his journey to a successful cardiac rehab program, enriched with behaviour modification and stress management sessions, psychological counselling and diet education, supervised exercise and risk factor management training.

At the end of the rehab program, he was confident about his health and was motivated to adhere to a healthy lifestyle for a lifetime. He enrolled in a maintenance plan for continued healthcare support. His wife was convinced that this was a life-changing program for her husband and that her family’s health was now guaranteed due to all the knowledge and awareness she had gained from us.

Stress mantras

So, remember these simple stress mantras for a healthy life.

  • Stress does not come from outside; it is your own response to the outside world
  • Do not be afraid of stress; do not ignore stress
  • Be aware of your stress triggers
  • Try to avoid or overcome the recurring triggers
  • Manage your stress appropriately
  • Get professional help if necessary
  • There is no one size fits all solution to manage stress, each individual is different

Magical millets for holistic health

What are millets?

Millet is tiny in size and round in shape and can be white, gray, yellow or red. The most widely available form of millet found in stores is the hulled variety, although traditional couscous made from cracked millet can also be found. The majority of the world’s commercial millet crop is produced by India, China and Nigeria.

It is a delicious grain whose consistency varies depending upon cooking method; it can be creamy like mashed potatoes or fluffy like rice. Additionally, since millet does not contain gluten, it is a wonderful grain alternative for people who are gluten-sensitive.


Pearl millet known as Kambu in Tamil has 8 times more iron than rice does. It is a great body coolant.

Finger millet popularly known as Ragi is also called as wonder grain as it is a powerhouse of essential amino acids and calcium.

Foxtail millet is thinai in Tamil. This is high in carbohydrate but also rich in fiber.It helps us to keep our body strong & immune. It helps to control blood sugar & cholesterol levels.

Kodo millet is known as varagu in Tamil. It is rich in phytochemicals, that plays an important role in preventing cancer.  Barnyard millet known as kuthiravali has 6 times more fiber in comparison to wheat.

Little millet known as saamai is a wonderful millet which is suitable for people of all ages and can be incorporated in different dishes.


How to Select and Store

Millet is generally available in its hulled and whole-grain form. It is available pre-packed as well as in bulk containers. Just as with any other food that you may purchase in the bulk section, make sure that the bins containing the millet are covered and that the store has a good product turnover so as to ensure its maximal freshness. Whether purchasing millet in bulk or in a packaged container, make sure that there is no evidence of moisture.

Store millet in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place, where it will keep for several months.

Tips for Preparing and Cooking

The Healthiest Way of Cooking Millet

Like all grains, before cooking millet rinse it thoroughly under running water and then remove any dirt or debris that you may find. After rinsing, add one part millet to two and a half parts boiling water or broth. After the liquid has returned to a boil, turn down the heat, cover and simmer for about 25 minutes or it can also be pressure cooked. The texture of millet cooked this way will be fluffy like rice. If you want the millet to have a more creamy consistency, stir it frequently adding a little water every now and then.

To impart a nuttier flavour to the cooked millet, you could roast the grains before boiling them. To do this, place the grains in a dry skillet over medium heat and stir them frequently. When they have achieved a golden colour, add them to the boiling cooking liquid.

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Health benefits

  • Millet acts as a prebiotic feeding microflora in the inner ecosystem.
  • The serotonin derived from millet is calming to moods and brings good sleep.
  • Millet is a small carbohydrate food with lots of fiber and low simple sugars. Because of this it has a relatively low glycemic index and has been shown to produce lower blood sugar levels than wheat or rice.
  • Niacin (vitamin B3) in millet can help lower cholesterol.
  • Millet is gluten-free and non-allergenic; a great grain for individuals with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.
  • Millet’s high protein content (15 percent) makes it a substantial addition to a vegetarian
  • Millets are generally rich in Protein, Fibre, Calcium, Iron and Minerals especially Magnesium, Copper and Phosphorous.
  • It helps to lower the risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
  • It is high insoluble fiber content protects against Gallstones.
  • Phytonutrients in millets, particularly lignan, helps reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer.

Regularly adding millets to our diet is a great way to prevent heart and blood vessel disorders.

The heart has an affinity for the number 100!

Today, the talk of the town is how to make healthy lifestyle choices and how to keep the heart young forever. We can successfully stay away from heart diseases by focusing on some simple prevention strategies. If there’s one number your heart is closely connected to, it is the number hundred – yes the magic number that you need to remember is 100!

A 100 years and beyond

To begin with, all of us aspire to live a 100 healthy years and rightfully so. If we have survived the most critical phase of life – from a single cell to a healthy little human– we are most likely on the path to making a century! Our body and our organs are capable of functioning well beyond a 100 years; however, there seem to be several unfathomable hurdles in this journey to which most of us succumb. Nevertheless, there are men and women among us who have effortlessly and graciously lived for over ten decades. In fact, the term used to identify demographic or geographic areas in the world where more people than normal are living beyond hundred years is “Blue Zones”. Research in these peoples has shown a close link between their lifestyle choices and their longevity (if you’d like to know more on this, Dan Buettner has authored two interesting books on the Blue Zones in the last decade. I’ve read the first one and would definitely recommend it).


Birthday candles number one hundred isolated on white background

Fasting blood sugar

Fasting blood sugar is nothing but the sugar level in our blood after overnight fasting, which in other words is the level of blood sugar in an empty stomach and approximately 10-12 hours after the previous meal. Insulin is the hormone that regulates the sugar levels in the blood and any dysfunction or insufficiency of insulin – known as diabetes – hampers this delicate balance. The cut-off for normal fasting blood sugar is 100 mg/dl, the normal range being 70-99 mg/dl. If your fasting blood sugar value is between 100 and 125, you have a condition called pre-diabetes, which if left alone will progress to full-blown diabetes. The best way to convert from pre-diabetes to a normal health condition is by intensive lifestyle modification.

Blood lipid levels

Dyslipidemia or abnormal blood cholesterol level is an important link in the coronary block mechanism. The optimal level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, bad cholesterol) in our body is less than 100 mg/dl. Triglycerides, the body’s energy reserve, should ideally be below 100 mg/dl although 150 is the official cut-off. The level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL, good cholesterol) should be over 50 mg/dl as at that level it is protective against coronary heart disease.

Mean blood pressure

This is nothing but the average of the systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings. If your blood pressure is 120/80, the mean blood pressure is [(120+80)/2] 100. What a surprise! A mean blood pressure above 100 is bad news – the heart’s pumping efficacy just starts dropping.

Body Weight

Coming to the issue of body weight, many of us at some point in time would have planned to shed a few kilos (any may have succeeded or given up on the plan). The ideal body weight is calculated by simply subtracting 100 from your height (in centimeters). The ideal weight of a person who is 165 cm tall is approximately 65 kilograms (165-100=65). At this weight, the body mass index (BMI) of the person will be within normal range too.

Heart rate

The heart of a healthy human adult beats approximately 72 times per minute in the resting condition. The natural triggers that increase the heart rate are increased physical and emotional activity. However, if the heart rate is above 100 per minute in the resting state, it is called tachycardia and needs to be medically evaluated. Similarly, a heart rate below 60 per minute is called bradycardia and needs further probing.

So dear friends, let us start thinking and acting proactively to keep the risk factors for heart disease at bay. Whether it is the three silent killers (diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia) or your body weight or your heart rate that you want to maintain within healthy limits, just keep in mind the number 100. By making some simple and easy lifestyle changes, we can all ensure we live beyond a hundred healthy and happy years!

Fitness mantra for heart patients

Exercise is the most important aspect of life for staying healthy and being active for all human beings irrespective of age and gender. It helps and improves the functioning of the whole body in a much better way. The activity of exercise enhances the fitness of the body physically and mentally. If you have observed heart patients, most of them are advised to do exercise to overcome the risk of heart attacks or cardiac arrest further. One should not forget that heart patients are only eligible to do some particular exercises and not all are applicable and advisable for them.


There are different types of exercises for Heart Patients to follow:

The simplest, yet an effective exercise for a heart patient is walking. It can improve the energy levels and keep them active throughout the day. It is the basic step towards the journey of beginning an exercise.

Aerobics plays an important part of exercise as it is highly advisable for almost all heart patients with mild movements. It shows better results in a very short span of time.

Cycling is the best remedial exercise for avoiding heart problems. The heart patient based on their health condition can either use a regular cycle or stationary cycle. Water aerobics and water cycling helps a lot for heart patients and relieves them from joint pains.

Stretching is important exercise for heart patients as it makes the body muscles flexible and increases your range of mobility. Also stretching the arms and legs after the exercise helps the patient to relax and avoid any muscle strain or injury.

Strength Training is also a part of exercise program where patients start with low resistance and gradually increase to higher resistance.

Flexibility exercises are very simple and unique for heart patients like neck exercise. It relaxes your body and helps to improve your flexibility.


Precautions for Heart patients while exercising:

Isometric exercises like push-ups and sit-ups should be avoided for heart patients as it strains the muscles and increases blood pressure rapidly.

It is not advisable for heart patients to do exercises in extreme temperatures like too cold, hot or humid. Avoid extremely hot and cold showers or sauna baths immediately after the exercise as it might affect the pressure on heart.

Benefits of doing exercises by heart patients:

  • It makes your body flexible and improves your mobility levels.
  • It helps in improving the circulation of blood that in turn regulates oxygen in your body in a better way.
  • Makes your heart and cardio vascular system strong.
  • It boosts your energy levels and endurance.
  • It maintains and controls your blood pressure.
  • It reduces your body excess fat, cholesterol and helps you gain healthy weight.
  • It relieves you from stress, tension, anxiety and depression.
  • Overcomes your sleeping disorder problems
  • Last but not the least, makes you feel more comfortable with relaxed state of mind.

Note: Any exercise chosen by heart patients needs to be strictly followed under the guidance of physician/physiotherapist

To know more details about the exercise for heart health please mail us at

Or call us at 9940408828/044-43192828.

A colourful plate for a healthy heart

Fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber – and they’re low in calories. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables may help you control your weight and blood pressure. Fresh, filling and heart-healthy, fruits and vegetables are an important part of your overall healthy eating plan. The American Heart Association recommends eating five or more fruit and vegetable servings every day. Also variety matters, so try a wide range of fruits and veggies.

Keep it colorful

Challenge yourself to try fruits and vegetables of different colors. Make it a red/green/orange day (apple, green leafy vegetables, carrot), or see if you can consume a rainbow of fruits and vegetables during the week.


Fruit and vegetables

Antioxidants in fruit and vegetables offer protection against heart disease. Fruit and vegetables are also important sources of folate, which helps lower the blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine, which appears to be linked to an increased risk of heart disease.

Foods containing vitamin E 

Some studies indicate that vitamin E acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect against ‘bad’ cholesterol. Good sources of vitamin E include almonds, dark green vegetables, vegetable oils and wholegrain products. It is better to eat foods containing vitamin E rather than take supplements, which do not have the same protective nature.

Fruits containing Iron

Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of iron. Watermelon is a fruit that contains 1.5g of iron in 1/8 of a medium sized fruit. Watermelon is also rich in vitamin C which helps your body to absorb iron efficiently. Raisins are a good addition to oat meal or Payasam (Indian milk-based dessert) which can increase your iron intake. Mushrooms, dark green leafy vegetables, beans, peas are also good sources of iron.

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Citrus Fruits

Women who consume high amounts of the flavonoids found in oranges and grapefruits have a 19% lower risk of ischemic stroke(caused by a clot) than women who don’t get as much of these compounds, a recent study found. Citrus fruits are also high in vitamin C, which has been linked with a lower risk of heart disease. Oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C. They are also a very good source of dietary fibre. In addition, oranges are a good source of B vitamins including vitamin B1, pantothenic acid and folate as well as vitamin A, calcium, copper and potassium. An orange has over 170 different phytonutrients and more than 60 flavonoids, many of which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour and blood clot inhibiting properties, as well as strong antioxidant effects.


Papaya may be beneficial to your heart health as it contains lycopene and vitamin C. The antioxidants in papaya may protect your heart and enhance the protective effects of HDL, the good cholesterol.


Pomegranates contain numerous antioxidants, including heart-promoting polyphenols and anthocyanins which may help stave off hardening of the arteries.


Creamy, rich and sweet bananas are a favourite food for everyone from infants to elders. Bananas are a good source of potassium an essential nutrient in maintaining blood pressure. Since one medium sized banana contains whopping 400mg of potassium the inclusion of bananas in your routine meal plan may help to prevent high blood pressure and protect again atherosclerosis. While bananas are a very low-fat food, one type of fat that they do contain is small amounts of sterols like sitosterol.  As these sterols look structurally similar to cholesterol, they can block the absorption of dietary cholesterol. By blocking absorption, they help us keep our blood cholesterol levels in check. They are good sources of vitamins, minerals and fibre.

Green leafy vegetables

A generous portion of green veggies in your daily diet can benefit your body .Greens make up a significant source vitamins A, C, E and K as well as several B vitamins. They are rich sources of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium. They are rich in fiber, extremely low in fat and carbohydrates and provide an excellent source of protein. Winter is the best time to enjoy leafy, green vegetables as they are fresh and can be consumed in a variety of ways. Add them to salads, have a green soup, make gravy or simply stuff  them in your sandwich. Whatever you choose, make sure you eat them.

Pledge to Power Your Life this World Heart Day

POWER YOUR LIFE” is the theme for this year’s World Heart Day!

With heart and blood vessel diseases claiming more and more lives unexpectedly all over the world, let us make a pledge this World Heart Day – 29th September 2016 – to power our lives with some heart-healthy lifestyle choices.

You may show your support by joining us at the beautiful Marina beach or by simply clicking this link and casting your vote:


P – Plan your daily routine such that you do at least 30 minutes of brisk exercise on 5 or more days a week

O – Opt for natural foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts

W – Worrying doesn’t help; stop worrying and do something about it

E – Ensure you eat a balanced diet with adequate amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fats, fibre, vitamins, minerals and water

R – Rest well and refresh yourself by sleeping for 7-8 hours every day

Y – You should learn from your past, look to the future but live in the present

O – Open your heart to love and compassion; open your mind to positive thoughts and new skills

U – Understand your health condition well; only then can you manage it better

R – Regular health checks are a must; it is the only way to detect the silent killers like diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol abnormalities

L – List out and make time for the things you enjoy doing; active hobbies like walking, cycling, swimming, hiking, dancing, gardening and playing a sport will keep you fit

I – Involve your near and dear ones in your efforts to lead a healthy lifestyle; you are not alone in this quest for health

F – Follow the advice of your healthcare personnel; do not modify or stop any treatment without their knowledge

E – Eliminate tobacco products completely; avoid excessive consumption of alcohol


10 things you must know about Cardiac Rehab

  1. What is cardiac rehab?

Cardiac rehabilitation or cardiac rehab is nothing but a medically supervised program to help individuals with heart diseases get back to normal health and routine activities as early and safely as possible. A cardiac rehab program is an exercise cum education program individualised to the medical, psychological and social needs of the participants.

  1. Why is it gaining importance?

Several research studies from the recent past have demonstrated that individuals who undergo cardiac rehab have better immediate and long-term outcomes as compared to those who do not receive cardiac rehab. The benefits of cardiac rehab are improvement in risk factor control, positive changes in health-related behaviour, increased physical ability to do things, better psychological wellbeing and disease coping skills, and a reduction in symptoms, repeat hospitalisations and complications. The American Heart Association, the European Society of Cardiology and the British Cardiovascular Society recommend that all eligible individuals should be referred for cardiac rehabilitation.


Benefits of cardiac rehabilitation


3. Who is eligible for cardiac rehab?

Individuals with one or more of the following conditions are eligible for cardiac rehab: coronary heart disease (blocks in the blood vessels supplying the heart), angina (chest pain on exertion), angioplasty (stenting), bypass surgery (coronary artery bypass graft or CABG), heart failure, heart valve surgery, heart transplantation and device implantation.

  1. How is cardiac rehab provided?

Cardiac rehab centres may be housed within a hospital or they may be located in the community as outpatient units. The program is typically provided by a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals, which includes a physician, a physiotherapist, a nutritionist and a counselling psychologist.

There are typically 4 phases and 4 components in a cardiac rehab program:

Phase 1 – guidance and counselling during hospitalisation (the rehab team will meet the affected individual and his/her family and provide clarification about the health condition)

Phase 2 – monitoring and support during the recovery period (which might be just a few days for a stent procedure and about 6 weeks for bypass surgery)

Phase 3 – supervised exercise cum education sessions (participants will attend two or three sessions a week for 6-12 weeks)

Phase 4 – maintenance and follow-up (upon completion of the program, participants will continue to adhere to the lifestyle changes at home and visit the rehab centre periodically)

  1. When should one enrol in a cardiac rehab program?

Enrolment in a cardiac rehab program is best done immediately after a heart disease is diagnosed (such as myocardial infarction or heart attack) or after an intervention or surgery (such as stent placement or bypass surgery). Having said this, not everybody would have easy access to a cardiac rehab facility. Nevertheless, participating in a cardiac rehab program any time after a cardiac event or procedure will lead to better outcomes than not doing so.

  1. Are there any side effects or hazards of cardiac rehab?

Cardiac rehab is generally safe, especially when safety guidelines are adhered to and participants are grouped according to their risk. There is a very small risk of adverse effects such as rhythm problems or injuries but the benefits far outweigh the risks. The rehab team will explain about the warning signals to look for when exercising and ensure that rehab participants exercise safely during the sessions as well as at home.

  1. How are the benefits of cardiac rehab assessed?

Some of the assessment tools used pre-program and at end-of-program are questionnaires to assess health-related behaviour, psychosocial wellbeing and nature and frequency of symptoms, anthropometry (weight, body mass index, waist hip ratio etc.), blood pressure, blood biochemistry (blood sugar, cholesterol levels), functional capacity (ability to exercise) and ejection fraction (an echocardiographic assessment of heart function).

  1. What happens after a cardiac rehab program?

Upon completion of a cardiac rehab program, individuals will be put on a maintenance program whereby periodic visits to the rehab centre will pave the way for better long-term adherence and adequate clinical monitoring.

  1. Is cardiac rehab an alternative to medications, stenting or bypass surgery?

Cardiac rehab is not a replacement for medications, stenting or surgery. It is a more holistic approach to treatment addressing the root cause of disease rather than just the symptoms and signs.

  1. How to get further information about cardiac rehab?

The following links give useful and reliable information:

You could visit our website or contact us for any clarifications or additional information about cardiac rehabilitation in India.



Dr. Priya Chockalingam, MBBS, MRCPCH, PhD Cardiology, Phone: +91 9940408828, +9144 43192828

Physical activity improves quality of life as you age

Physical activity (PA) is associated with reduced risk for several disorders including coronary heart disease, cancers, diabetes, and stroke. Regular physical activity can relieve tension, anxiety, depression and anger. You may notice a “feel good sensation” immediately following your physical activity, and most people also note an improvement in general wellbeing over time as physical activity becomes a part of their routine. Some of the hormones responsible for these changes are endorphins, growth hormone and serotonin.

According to the AHA (American Heart Association), too much sitting and other sedentary activities can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. One study showed that adults who watch more than 4 hours of television a day had a 46% increased risk of death from any cause and an 80% increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

Becoming more active can help lower your blood pressure and also boost your levels of good cholesterol.

Regular Physical activity can improve the anti aging process by increasing strength, stamina and ability to function well. Recent research showed that people who are physically active and at a healthy weight live about 7 years longer than those who are not active and are obese.

If you want to improve your physical fitness, but you find the idea of exercise overwhelming, it may help you to know exercise and physical activity is not the same thing—yet both are beneficial to your health.

Exercise, however, is a type of physical activity that requires planned, structured, and repetitive bodily movement with the intent of improving or maintaining your physical fitness level. Exercise can be accomplished through activities such as cycling, dancing, walking, swimming, yoga, working out at the gym, or running etc. Regular exercise, depending upon the kind, improves aerobic fitness, muscular strength, and flexibility.

Everyday physical activities such as performing housework, walking at work place, or climbing stairs keep your body moving and still count toward the recommended amount of weekly physical activity.

Regular exercises like brisk walking, cycling and swimming can have the following effects on our body…


Reduces risk of diabetes

Regular physical activity helps maintain blood sugar levels and lowers the risk of developing non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. If you have a body mass index (BMI) greater than 25 or if you have a family history of diabetes, this benefit of exercise may have special value to you.

Helps maintain weight

Physical activity has been shown to be the single most important factor in successful weight maintenance. Aim for burning about 1000-2000 calories per week from activity.

Reduces risk of premature death

The highest risk of death and disability is found among those who do no regular physical activity.

Reduces risk of heart disease

Physical activity increases the level of high density lipoprotein (HDL) or “good” cholesterol in your blood. HDLs are like cholesterol scavengers – they pick up the “bad” cholesterol in the arteries and transport it to the liver for eventual removal from the body. An increase in your HDL is protective; it can decrease the risk of a heart attack. The other ways by which physical activity protects the heart are controlling blood pressure, maintaining blood glucose, preventing obesity and keeping your stress levels at bay.

Improves health of muscles and bones

Regular aerobic physical activity improves blood flow to your muscles and helps them use energy. Strength training increases muscle size and strength. Physical activities like jogging, walking and strength training strengthen your bones and make them denser, thereby preventing osteoporosis and arthritis.

Improves mental health

Regular physical activity can reduce anxiety and depression and improve mood. It may be a beneficial strategy to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive impairment and vascular dementia. Exercise may directly benefit brain cells by increasing blood and oxygen flow to the brain.

Reduces risk of high blood pressure

Not only does regular physical activity reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure but it also helps lower blood pressure in people who already have elevated blood pressure.

Helps older adults become stronger

The loss of strength and stamina that is often attributed to aging is partly caused by reduced physical activity. Inadequate physical activity leads to a thinning of bones, a weakening of muscles, and a reduction in metabolic rate (the rate at which your body burns calories). This often leads to weight gain. Physical activity improves nearly all systems, especially the cardiovascular system and the ability to perform the routine tasks of daily life.

Diabetes and connection with heart disease

People with diabetes have an elevated risk of heart disease.
A person with diabetes has a higher risk of developing heart disease, and that too 10 to 15 years earlier than individuals without diabetes.

The risk of heart disease is further increased if you have…
• Family history of heart disease
• Extra weight around the waist
• Abnormal cholesterol levels
• High blood pressure
• Habit of smoking / alcohol consumption
• High levels of stress

Diabetic Heart Disease
Diabetic heart disease includes coronary heart disease (CHD), heart failure, and diabetic cardiomyopathy.

Coronary Heart Disease
In coronary heart disease (CHD), a waxy substance called plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries. These arteries supply heart muscle with oxygen-rich blood. Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood. When plaque builds up in the arteries, the condition is called atherosclerosis. Plaque narrows the coronary arteries and reduces blood flow to your heart muscle. The buildup of plaque may partially or completely block blood flow.
Diabetic atherosclerosis can lead to chest pain or discomfort called angina, irregular heart beat called arrhythmia, a heart attack, or even death.
Heart Failure
Heart failure is a condition in which your heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. The term “heart failure” doesn’t mean that the heart has stopped or is about to stop working. However, heart failure is a serious condition that requires medical care.
If you have heart failure, you may tire easily and have to limit your activities. Diabetes can lead to heart failure by weakening the heart muscle over time.
Diabetic Cardiomyopathy
Chronic diabetes can also lead to diabetic cardiomyopathy where the heart muscle weakens, the heart enlarges and the pumping action of the heart gradually fails.
Heart disease can be prevented in a person with diabetes
The best way to prevent heart disease is to take good control of diabetes.
• Keep blood sugar as normal as possible
• Control blood pressure, with medication if necessary. The target for people with diabetes is under 130/80 mmHg
• Keep cholesterol numbers under control. Low density lipoprotein (LDL or bad cholesterol) should be below 100 mg/dL, High density lipoprotein (HDL or good cholesterol) should be higher than 40 mg/dL in men and higher than 50 mg/dL in women. Triglycerides should be lower than 150 mg/dL
• Lose weight if obese
• Exercise regularly. The American Diabetes Association recommends at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five days a week
• Eat a heart-healthy diet. Reduce consumption of high-fat and cholesterol-rich foods such as fried foods, red meat and egg yolk, and eat more high-fiber foods, including whole grains, vegetables, and fruits
• Quit smoking / abstain from alcohol
• Manage your stress better

Diabetes friendly diet

Making healthy food choices and tracking eating habits help to manage blood glucose level better. If you are diabetic, you should choose foods rich in complex carbohydrates, fiber, proteins, vitamins and minerals, and stay away from unhealthy fats and sweets as much as possible.
• Healthy carbohydrates. During digestion, sugars (simple carbohydrates) and starches (complex carbohydrates) break down into glucose. The latter group is preferred to the former as it does not cause a rapid rise or frequent fluctuations in your blood glucose level. So, focus on the healthy carbohydrates such as whole wheat, oatmeal, brown rice, barley and millets.
• Fiber-rich foods. Dietary fiber includes all parts of plant foods that your body can’t digest or absorb. Fiber can decrease the risk of heart disease and help control blood sugar levels. Foods high in fiber include vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
• Good fats. Foods containing monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as nuts (almonds, pistachios and walnuts), vegetable oils (sunflower, rice bran, olive and sesame oils) and fish (if you’re in the habit of eating fish) should be a part of your daily diet. Lean meat (skinless chicken and poultry) has lesser unhealthy fats than red meat (mutton, beef, poultry) and can be had occasionally.

Sample diet chart for Diabetes

Upon waking up: 1 to 2 glasses of water

Breakfast: Idli (3) / Dosai (2), 1 cup boiled/raw vegetables, Sambar/ vegetable/green leaf chutney

Mid morning: Butter milk / Lime juice (without sugar) – 250ml or Fruits 100gms

Lunch: Boiled rice/Brown rice(1-1½ cups) with dhal sambar, buttermilk and more vegetables and leafy greens

Afternoon: Half cup sundal/sprouts

Pre-dinner (or pre-bedtime): Cut fruits (100gms)

Dinner: One cup of vegetable salad, 2 Chapathis/Rotis with dhal, vegetable gravy

Advised to have 2-3 hours gap between dinner and bedtime.

Heart disease – what’s all the hue and cry about?

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Have you ever wondered, “Why is there such a hue and cry about heart diseases and more so, why is it much more now than a decade or two ago?”

The disease burden

Diseases of the heart and blood vessels such as heart attack, stroke and hypertension, known as cardiovascular diseases, are not only claiming more and more lives across the globe but are also posing an acute threat to the economic development of our subcontinent. While the statistics can make you dizzy, all you need to know is cardiovascular disease is the Number 1 killer disease amongst men and women today. The rising incidence of health problems like diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity, combined with harmful behaviors like smoking, alcoholism, unhealthy diet, inadequate physical activity and high stress levels are contributing equally if not more to this health crisis.

Cardiovascular diseases are multifactorial in origin, meaning there are several environmental and biological factors causing them. Though you might not be exactly sure what caused you or your loved one(s) to acquire the disease, you can be very sure of one thing: The lifestyle choices you make on a daily basis play a major role in causing as well as controlling the disease. There is therefore an urgent need to spread awareness about the risk factors and empower people with ways and means to better manage their health.

The risk factors can be broadly classified into modifiable (those that can be modified by us) and non-modifiable (those that our beyond our control) factors.

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Modifiable risk factors

  • Hypercholesterolemia (high blood cholesterol levels)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Diabetes (elevated blood sugar levels)
  • Overweight and Obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Unhealthy eating habits
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Psychosocial factors (such as chronic stress, anxiety, depression etc.)

Non-modifiable risk factors

  • Hereditary factors (genetic predisposition that runs in families)
  • Ethnicity (racial factors)
  • Age
  • Sex

I personally believe that the non-modifiable risk factors can also be modified but let’s save that for another day.


Healthy Lifestyle Choices

You would be surprised if I told you that your diabetes, hypertension and heart condition could be reversed. A healthy lifestyle characterized by regular physical exercise, balanced nutrition, and positive and healthy mindset is the building block for prevention and reversal of all cardiovascular diseases. While medical and surgical interventions are critical, addressing the risk factors by making the necessary changes to your lifestyle will go a long way in improving quality of life and keeping complications at bay.


A cardiac rehabilitation program is something you (and your family) should consider if you have had a heart attack, angioplasty or stent procedure, bypass surgery or other heart surgeries. Keep reading my blog entries for more useful info.

The heart-healthy exercise plan

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Can you name the most important muscle in your body? No, it’s not your abs, thigh muscle or arms. It’s your heart!

The human heart is an amazing muscle, capable of pumping about five litres of blood throughout the body every minute—that’s approximately 7,200 litres of blood each day! In fact, the average heart beats about 100,000 times each day, too, which is why it’s so important to have a strong and healthy heart.

And just like you can exercise to build strength in your arm and thigh muscles, you can also train your heart to become stronger, healthier and more efficient at doing its function. The right exercise plan is like strength-training for your heart, which helps it pump more blood with less effort.

The Facts
According to the American Heart Association (AHA),physical inactivity is a major risk factor for developing coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD is caused by deposits of fatty substances, cholesterol, calcium and other substances in the inner lining of the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle. This build-up makes the arteries narrowed or blocked, and when oxygen-rich blood can’t reach the heart, the result is chest pain or a heart attack. Over time, CAD can weaken the heart muscle and lead to heart failure.

While CAD is the most common type of heart disease and the leading cause of death in the World for both men and women, the good news is that lifestyle changes like exercise can help prevent or treat CAD in most people.

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How to Exercise for a Healthy Heart
Fortunately, it doesn’t take hours in the gym to get the heart-healthy benefits of exercise. As little as 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as walking, most days of the week can substantially reduce your risk of heart disease. Additionally, the habit can help improve your mental well being and manage your weight, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels better.

While previous recommendations have focused mainly on cardio (aerobic) conditioning for heart health, new guidelines developed by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the AHA also take into account higher levels of intensity and the benefits that strength training offers your heart. These recommendations are for healthy adults under the age of 65 who want to improve heart health, prevent heart disease, and increase overall well-being.

Cardio (aerobic) exercise guidelines: Perform moderately-intense cardio exercise for 30 minutes a day, five days a week. If weight-loss is your goal as well, increase this number up to 60 minutes at a moderate intensity. Moderate intensity is defined by ACSM as a target heart rate range of 55-59% of your maximum heart rate which is roughly the pace where you break a sweat but are still able to carry on a conversation.

Strength training guidelines: Do 8-10 strength-training exercises with 8-12 repetitions of each exercise twice a week.

For more details about exercise plans contact us at

Sitting for long hours is best avoided

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People with heart disease who sit for a long time have worse health even if they exercise regularly. Limiting the amount of time we spend on sitting may be as important as the amount we exercise. Sitting, watching television, working at a computer and driving are all sedentary behaviours and we need to take breaks from them.

While regular exercise is key to preventing heart disease, obesity and diabetes, limiting the time we spend not moving during the day has emerged as another important aspect of good health. Long hours of sitting need to be broken up with periodic standing or walking around.

Sitting for long periods of time and not using your muscles will have adverse effects on our body. While a person is sedentary (usually sitting and not active) there is a reduced uptake of glucose and fats, which then affects cholesterol and sugar levels. Breaking up your sedentary time will be beneficial in reducing the risk factors of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. We have to mobilize our muscles to burn oxygen and tap the fuel sources in our bodies. When sitting, there is no weight bearing or stress on the muscles—they aren’t stimulated and energy doesn’t get burned off.

Negative effects of being sedentary may be overcome by regular cardiovascular exercise and also by pushing your exercise limits. Recent research has shown that every extra hour of television viewing per day is associated with increased waist circumference, greater body mass index, and higher systolic blood pressure and triglycerides.

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Keys to Get Moving

  • Get up and move every 30 minutes
  • Stand up during TV commercials or, even better, do light exercises while watching TV
  • Drink lots of water (if your health condition permits) so it forces you to get up to go to the washroom
  • Take lunch breaks outside instead of in front of your work computer, and avoid gadgets while eating
  • Go to bed instead of sitting in front of the TV and get your daily quota of sleep

Monitor your activity patterns to find out when you are most sedentary and replace that with active hobbies

Eat your way out of your sticky cholesterol problem

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Cholesterol is a soft, waxy, fat-like substance produced naturally by our liver (endogenous cholesterol) as well as consumed in our diet (exogenous cholesterol). Cholesterol is an integral component of all the cells in our body and in fact essential for the life of the animal kingdom.

Abnormal cholesterol levels in the blood, known as dyslipidemia, is a problem as it raises the risk of diseases like heart attack and stroke. When there is too much cholesterol circulating in the blood, it can create sticky deposits (called plaques) along the artery walls. Plaque can eventually narrow or block the flow of blood to the brain, heart, and other organs. Blood cells that get caught on the plaque form clots, which can break loose and completely block blood flow through an artery, causing heart attack or stroke.

Types of cholesterol

As cholesterol particles cannot travel in blood by themselves, they get transported by means of cholesterol-protein carriers called lipoproteins. The two main types are:

  • Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) – is also known as ‘bad’ cholesterol because it moves cholesterol from the blood to the cells. In other words, LDL can add to the build-up of plaque in arteries and increase the risk of getting coronary heart disease
  • High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) – also known as ‘good’ cholesterol because it helps protect against coronary heart disease by transporting cholesterol from the blood to the liver (from where the excess cholesterol is disposed off)

Thus it is vital to have sufficient HDL cholesterol and on the other hand low LDL cholesterol to lead a healthy life. Dyslipidemia refers to abnormal blood cholesterol levels (high LDL and/or low HDL).

Causes of dyslipidemia
A diet rich in saturated fats, sedentary lifestyle, chronic stress, smoking, diabetes and hypertension are the major reasons for dyslipidemia.

Healthy eating helps lower cholesterol

Changing some of the foods that you eat by following a healthy, balanced diet that is low in saturated fats and trans-fats can help to regularise your blood cholesterol levels.

It’s important to replace foods that contain unhealthy, saturated and trans-fats with foods that contain polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats (PUFAs/MUFAs). Oils such as sunflower, soybean, rice bran and safflower oil, oily fish, and some nuts and seeds are high in polyunsaturated fats. Olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, avocados and some nuts are high in monounsaturated fats.

So, which is the best cooking oil?

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We now know that oils of animal origin (ghee, butter) and partially hydrogenated industrial oils (rich in transfats and present in a wide variety of commercial foods) should be sparingly used or completely avoided if possible.

The vegetable oils listed above are rich in PUFAs/MUFAs and can be used safely in the kitchen. However, deep frying and re-using oils can convert the good fats in these vegetable oils to unhealthy fats, so get rid of that habit.

And to answer the question about which is the best oil, the answer is no one oil is the clear winner. Different vegetable oils have different proportions and types of MUFAs and PUFAs, so using 3-4 different oils on a daily basis is recommended. For instance, including sesame seed oil for breakfast, adding olive oil to your mid-morning salad garnish and cooking your vegetables with rice bran or cannola oil might be an interesting and healthful melange. But watch out, even a teaspoon of oil contains over 100 calories, so you don’t want to go overboard with the amounts you use.

The five food groups you should focus on

The best starting point for a healthy diet is to eat a wide variety of foods from each of the five food groups, in the amounts recommended. This helps maintain a healthy and interesting diet and provides a range of different nutrients to the body. Eating a variety of foods promotes good health and can help reduce the risk of disease.

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables and legumes/beans
  • Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds
  • Grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and high fibre varieties
  • Low fat (skimmed) milk, yoghurt, cheese

The five mantras for getting rid of your cholesterol issues

  • Eat a healthy diet, even if you are not overweight
  • Cultivate the habit of regular physical exercise
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Keep blood pressure and blood sugar under control
  • Avoid tobacco in any form (cigarette, beedi, snuff) including passive smoking