While many of us don’t necessary think about it— cardiovascular health issues continue to be costly to our economy and remains at the top of the health agenda in Australia.
In fact, around 4.2 million Australians are affected by cardiovascular health issues at a cost of $5.9 billion to the country.
With World Heart Day coming up—Leading Integrative Cardiologist Dr Jason Kaplan shares with us his top tips on how to address your heart health naturally, all of which he believes require a holistic approach for maintaining optimum cardiovascular health.
Here are his top five tips for keeping your heart in tip-top shape, naturally:
1. Learn to manage your stress levels
While this is easier said than done—it’s important to keep your stress levels in check as this may have an impact on our heart health. We all handle stress differently, especially when it comes to things like unexpected bills, car breakdowns, family emergencies, and other common daily challenges. Remember that mental health can be reflected in our physical health. Stress triggers the release of adrenaline and cortisol, which can impact your blood pressure and heart rate. Investing in your psychological and social wellbeing can leave your heart feeling fuller and healthier.
2. Exercise, daily
Exercise has incredible benefits not only for your weight and mental health, but specifically for your heart. Aerobic exercises in particular can lower blood pressure and strengthen your heart, as you slowly increase your cardiovascular endurance. Regular physical activity makes your heart stronger, and like any muscle you work out this means your heart can pump more blood with less effort, which in turn decreases the force on your arteries, and lowers your blood pressure.
My top tip? Find exercise that doesn’t necessarily feel like ‘exercise’, whether it be taking the stairs instead of the elevator, power walking instead of leisurely walking, or even dancing—aim to move and increase your heart rate for at least 30 minutes every day if possible . Improving fitness will lead to a longer life.
3. Incorporate more healthy fatty acids through a Mediterranean diet
There is such thing as foods that are more heart friendly than others—including those that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have the added benefit of reducing inflammation in the body, particularly around the joints. So, what do these foods look like? Think salmon, walnuts, flaxseed and hemp. Another strategy to get more of these foods in your diet is a Mediterranean style diet, as it has been shown to reduce the build-up of plaque in our carotid arteries
Ubiquinol—which is the active, more easily absorbed and effective version of Coenzyme Q10 (or CoQ10)—is a powerful, naturally occurring antioxidant in your body which is essential for energy production. Supplementing with Ubiquinol has been shown to assist in maintaining healthy levels of LDL cholesterol and may help with overall maintenance of a healthy cardiovascular system. It has been found particularly effective in some patients with a weak heart muscle or those experiencing side effects from cholesterol lowering drugs. In a study on AHA journals, patients who took Ubiquinol showed an improvement in the plasma CoQ10 levels and improvement in heart function.
5. Ramp up your social activities with friends and family
There are many health benefits to having strong relationships—including improving your heart health. Research has shown that people who maintain healthy friendship networks helps reduce stress and improves heart variability—leading to a longer and happier life.
Speak to your healthcare practitioner to find out which supplement is right for you. Always read the label and use only as directed.
About Dr. Jason Kaplan
Dr Jason Kaplan is a specialist adult cardiologist and physician. Dr Kaplan studied Medicine at UNSW and graduated with Honours in 1999 then completed his Internal Medicine Training at St George and Prince of Wales hospitals and Adult Cardiology training at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.
He has completed additional training in cardiac imaging in Australia and has spent time at the MAYO clinic in Minnesota, USA. He performs transoesophageal echocardiography, pharmacological stress (dobutamine) echocardiography and has brought the use of contrast echo and strain imaging to Macquarie University Hospital.
Dr Kaplan has been a part of the team bringing minimally invasive robotic cardiac surgery to Macquarie University providing 3D echocardiography services to peri-operative patients and is part of the Structural Heart Disease team at Macquarie University assessing patients prior to minimally invasive cardiac procedures.
Dr Kaplan is also a proponent of Integrative Cardiology incorporating principles of cardiovascular, nutritional, functional and Mind – Body Medicine in the care of his patients.
Dr Kaplan also has a strong interest in Sports Cardiology – an emerging subspecialty within cardiology providing cardiac care to elite athletes and exercising individuals and has worked with the NSW Institute of Sport, Olympic athletes and more recently has consulted to the National Rugby League.
Dr Kaplan is currently a senior clinical lecturer in Medicine in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at Macquarie University teaching undergraduate and postgraduate students. .
In his spare time, Dr Kaplan loves to spend time with his wife and daughter, is a keen tennis player and practices yoga. He currently consults from the Sydney CBD, Macquarie University and Blacktown.