Dr. Rachel ‘smartens up’ about heart health

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New Orleans (WGNO) - Thinking about heart health is always important, so why not on Valentine's Day?

Dr. Rachel sat down with Dr. Frank Smart, Cheif of Cardiology at  LSU School of Medicine, to find out what you need to know about your heart.

Dr. Smart says that everyone should have a good idea of their risk profile, which includes family history, smoking history, and cholesterol. He tells us that if you have absolutely no risk factors, your LDL or bad cholesterol level can be at a 130 or below. But if you're someone who is at a higher risk, it should be below 100.

As for cigarette smoking, Dr. Smart says that it's pretty black and white, "Cigarette smoking is the absolute worst thing for your heart and vascular system and if you smoke cigarettes you should stop."

Dr. Smart also says that a plant-rich diet is the way to go, with a lot of healthy fats like nuts and avocado. Exercise is also extremely important, "Exercise, right now is what we define as 150 minutes per week of an activity that raises your heart rate to 65 to 70% of your predicted maximum." But you can't just get up your heart rate for one minute and be done, "You've got to sustain the heart rate for 25 minutes to really get the benefit of that aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise is better than just strength training but strength training is very important."

Dr. Rachel and Dr. Smart definitely agree that when it comes to affairs of the heart, even a few seconds can mean the difference between life and death. So id you have symptoms that you think might be a heart attack, you should get to the hospital immediately by calling 9-1-1. "Time is everything in this game, so time is muscle and muscle is the performance of your heart. If we can catch a heart attack in the first 60 minutes and stop it, we can virtually eliminate any permanent damage to your heart."

Finally, if you're thinking of having a drink to celebrate the holiday of love, Dr. Smart says to stick to wine, "red wine is a little bit better than white wine because it's got more of the flavanoid in it and yes it is good for your heart."

 

Happy Valentine's Day!