8 Things Cardiologists Do for Their Own Hearts

Rush cardiologists share their best heart-healthy habits

Heart Health

Cardiologists aren’t just helping their patients lead healthier lives — they’re living out their own advice every day. In celebration of Heart Month, Rush cardiologists shared 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. One must 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 and was constantly tired and realized that sleep is an important element for lowering cardiovascular risk and increasing longevity. For the past year, I have focused more on healthy sleeping habits: I go to bed at 10 and get a good seven to eight hours of sleep, and I feel great.”

— Dinesh Kalra, MD

I make exercise a priority, before going to work.

“It's important to make exercise as important a part of your day as other things. This means planning for it, putting it on your schedule and not letting other things get in the way. I prefer the morning, because if it’s the first thing you do, things during the day can’t derail our best intentions for exercising after work. Additionally, the endorphins that exercise create help you think clearer and give you energy throughout the day.”

— Kousik Krishnan, MD

I removed processed foods from my diet.

“Keeping your heart healthy is about eating a diet very low in saturated fat and processed foods. I have been advocating for my patients to adopt a similar diet plan. Abiding by any type of diet 100% can be hard and not sustainable for a lifetime. I try to stay as close to a diet consisting of mainly (80-90%) 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 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 happy, so I don't overindulge (anymore), but I don't deprive myself either.”

— P. Raghu Reddy, MD

I'm on a plant-based diet.

“I eat a whole food, plant-based ‘vegeterranean’ diet, that is, 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 meditate every morning.

“My daily routine starts with a morning practice of meditation. I am formally trained in advanced meditation technique, and the health benefits include improvement in blood pressure, sugar, sleep quality, weight and brain plasticity. Our response to stress in the form of fight or flight is inevitable, but meditation makes people less susceptible to the effects of chronic stress. I find myself more relaxed and less reactive, even in difficult situations. I have received tremendous feedback on the impact of meditation on my patients who practice regularly. Meditating, eating healthy, and regularly exercising is my heart-healthy prescription to myself.”

— Sonal Chandra, MD

I play tennis as much as possible.

“This has been shown to reduce CV mortality by up to 57%. Downside? I have to play through the injuries at times — but as that wise philosopher Sparky Anderson (Cincinnati Reds/Detroit Tigers) once said, “Pain never hurt nobody.” Well, maybe just a little. I had a recent left hip replacement but was back on court in a few weeks.”

— Kim Williams, MD

I stay positive.

“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

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