Cardiologists aren’t just helping their patients lead healthier lives — they’re following their own advice every day. Rush cardiologists share their most beneficial heart-healthy habits.
I get a good night’s sleep.
“Being in medicine and constantly busy, it’s easy to forget to take care of yourself. I make a concerted effort to carve out time for adequate sleep and exercise, along with healthy eating. I used to sleep only five hours daily. I was constantly tired and realized that sleep is an important element for lowering cardiovascular risk and increasing longevity. Recently, I have engaged in healthy sleeping habits: I go to bed at 10 p.m. and get a good seven to eight hours of sleep. I feel great.”
— Dinesh Kalra, MD
I make exercise a priority before going to work.
“It's important to make exercise a priority in your day. This means planning for it, such as putting it on your schedule and not letting other things get in the way. I prefer to exercise in the morning because other things during the day can’t derail our best intentions to exercise after work. Additionally, when we exercise, it creates endorphins, which help you think clearer and give you energy throughout the day.”
— Kousik Krishnan, MD
I run almost daily.
“Running is my passion. I started running in medical school, and when I had my children, I incorporated them in my running routines — whether that was running with a jogging stroller or exercising with them. I always make time to run and exercise because our hearts are a very important part of our bodies. And the more we take care of our bodies, the more efficient we will be.”
— Melissa Tracy, MD
I removed processed foods from my diet.
“Keeping your heart healthy is about eating a diet that is low in saturated fat and processed foods. I have been advocating for my patients to adopt a similar diet plan. I try to stay as close to a diet consisting of mainly fruits, vegetables, grains, unprocessed foods with a small amount of animal products that are difficult to avoid (such as egg whites, fish, lean meat).”
— Steve Attanasio, DO
I watch how much salt I eat.
“I eat very little sodium in my diet. High amounts of sodium can raise your blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. I do occasionally enjoy chips when visiting with friends, but I eat small portions and my diet mostly consists of fresh, organic foods — including lots of fruits and vegetables — which are rich in vitamins and minerals, and help to lower your cardiovascular risk factors. So, I'm very conscious of the amount of sodium and salt I consume.”
—Tochi Okwuosa, DO
I don't eat meat.
“I became a vegetarian about 15 years ago, and it has made a noticeable difference. I feel healthier and more energetic. I occasionally have sushi and don’t feel guilty about it. Dessert makes me feel happy, so I don’t deprive myself. But I just don’t overindulge.”
— P. Raghu Reddy, MD
I'm a vegan.
“I eat a whole food, plant-based ‘vegeterranean’ diet — an animal-friendly Mediterranean diet. This is associated with 42% reduction in mortality in comparison with Mediterranean diet that includes animal products.”
— Kim Williams, MD
I drink lots of water.
“Keeping our bodies hydrated helps our hearts pump blood more easily and allows oxygen to reach our muscles, which helps our muscles work efficiently. So, I drink a ton of water — usually around 3 to 4 liters a day.”
—Tochi Okwuosa, DO
I believe moderation is key.
“My mantra in life is that everything is good in moderation. I enjoy what I eat, but I don't feel the necessity to finish everything on my plate. I try my best to get plenty of sleep, and I incorporate exercise in my daily routine. I always tell my patients to be gentle with themselves when finding a healthy balance. Not every day will be perfect and that’s OK. We each have our own journeys toward living a more heart-healthy lifestyle.”
—Melissa Tracy, MD
I see the bright side.
“I try to stay positive and smile often. I feel people treat me with the same positivity when they see that, so the approach helps everyone.”
— P. Raghu Reddy, MD