A HEALTHY HEART What are some common misconceptions regarding cardiovascular health? There is a misconception among individuals who exercise regularly and are at ideal weight that they need not be concerned about coronary disease. Many of these individuals have one or more risk factors which may lead to coronary disease. We know that older age alone is a risk factor. Routine evaluation by a physician to include laboratory studies should be performed on older patients to better evaluate and lessen risk. Cardiologists also recognize that there are individuals without multiple coronary risk factors who may develop coronary disease. Symptoms of chest discomfort or tightness or a significant change in ability to exercise may be an indicator of coronary disease and should always be brought to the attention of a physician. Q: Q: Q: What are some healthy habits you recommend for someone wanting to improve their cardiovascular health? Healthy habits include achieving ideal weight. Eating more fruits, vegetables and unprocessed foods are recommended to control weight. Avoiding high calorie desserts, cremes and dressings will also help cut calories. Exercising on a regular schedule three to four times a week will help decrease your weight as well as lower your risk of cardiovascular events. There are plenty of ways to get some exercise around The Villages. What do you like to recommend your patients do to get moving? Patients need to have reasonable exercise goals. They may need to begin exercising for only 10 to 15 minutes per day until their exercise capacity improves. They need not exercise to exhaustion. Most patients will find their ability to exercise rapidly improves over several weeks. It is important that they choose exercises they enjoy and anticipate will become part of their daily routine. Exercise programs should be tailored to each patient depending on their age and possible disabilities. Many individuals in The Villages find walking on a daily basis is the best way of ensuring continued exercise long term. Those individuals who are better conditioned often find bicycling or walking on treadmills the best way to improve exercise capacity. Q: 26 AUGUST 2021 Anything else you'd like to share in regard to cardiovascular health? There is no need to go to extremes in your efforts to improve your cardiac health. I advise patients that it is unnecessary to become a marathon runner or bicycle 50 miles a day to maintain cardiovascular fitness. Although a low cholesterol diet is recommended to reduce cardiovascular risk, I advise my patients to enjoy life and when going out with friends or family, it is ok to relax and eat what they find enjoyable without guilt.