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Dr. Sheila Sudhakar Explains the Simple Things You Can Do to Be Good to Your Heart

Scary but true: Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of Americans today. But, the good news is that everyone-regardless of size, genetics, gender, or age-can prevent heart attacks and strokes. According to Dr. Sheila Sudhakar, Sr. Medical Director at Cigna Medical Group and a contributor to Coach by Cigna, prevention starts with a greater awareness of the facts surrounding heart disease, knowing the warning signs, and being realistic about your health. Here, she shares common misconceptions and an action plan for getting on track.

What are common misconceptions that individuals have about heart health?

  • Heart disease only affects older people
  • Heart disease affects males and females basically the same way for both
  • I will know if I have high blood pressure…I should feel something.
  • Heart disease runs in my family so there is nothing I can do to prevent it.
  • I should avoid exercise after having a heart attack

What are a few simple steps that people can start doing now to start to taking better care of their hearts?

  • Exercise regularly – for at least 30-45 minutes 3-5 times a week
  • Eat mindfully – watch portions, caloric intake, limiting processed high sodium foods
  • Get regular check-ups with your physician so we can work together to prevent any heart disease and proactively take care of your heart

Obviously diet plays a large role in our cardiovascular health: Are there specific foods that everyone should make a part of a heart healthy diet? 

  • Fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes and nuts, low fat/cholesterol meats.
  • More colorful fruits and veggies – more nutrients
  • Avoid any added sugar
  • Monitor salt intake

How does stress impact our heart health? 

  • Stress can increase our blood pressure.
  •  In response to coping with stress, we may indulge in unhealthy behaviors that can put us at risk for heart disease such as smoking, physical inactivity, unhealthy eating, limiting sleep.
Technology is making it easier than ever to monitor our overall health and wellness, are there specific apps and technologies (aside from Coach by Cigna) that you’re excited by?
  • Couch to 10K
  • Map My Run
  • Lose it

Learn more about how you can get proactive about heart health this Tuesday when Dr. Sheila joins us for a timely panel discussion (RSVP for that right here).