Follow the Leaders
“What can I do to improve my heart health?”
It’s one of the questions we get asked most frequently at PartnerMD, and not just every February during American Heart Month. For good reason, heart health is (and should be) a year-round focus.
In a general sense, the answer isn’t all that difficult. Just about every habit – good or bad – can effect your cardiovascular health. The three main healthy habits you should focus on should not be a surprise.
Eat healthy foods. More than two-thirds of heart disease-related deaths worldwide can be linked to food choices, according to a recent study in the European Heart Journal.
Exercise regularly. Sedentary people have a 35% greater risk of developing high blood pressure than physically active people do, per the University of Maryland Medical Center. High blood pressure is a leading cause of heart disease.
Make an active effort to sleep better. A recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that people sleeping fewer than six hours per night had a 20% higher chance of a heart attack.
If you can make progress in those three core areas, you’re going to improve your heart health. But what if the question is slightly different?
That’s quite a different question, because it’s really about supercharging how you eat, exercise, and sleep. That likely means investing in products that are on the cutting edge of those core health areas.
If you’re looking to take your heart health habits to the next level, here are four products that could help.
Electrolytes help regulate your fluids, produce energy, and strengthen your bones. You lose electrolytes by removing processed foods from your diet (i.e. low carb/keto), because processed foods are often high in sodium (an electrolyte), and through things like sweat (i.e. exercising).
So, if you follow a low carb/keto diet or exercise intensely, you can become electrolyte deficient. You can be eating well and exercising regularly – both very beneficial heart health habits – but still feel off. You may even suffer from headache, muscle cramps, etc., which lead you to abandon those healthy habits.
Gatorade and Powerade are well-known for their electrolytes, but they also contain high amounts of sugar. Sugar leads to inflammation throughout the body, which can ultimately lead to heart disease. One study published by JAMA Internal Medicine found people who eat a high-sugar diet had a 38% higher risk of dying from heart disease.
LMNT electrolyte supplements are sugar-free and stevia-sweetened and “formulated to help anyone with their electrolyte needs.” They’ll help you maintain your electrolyte levels and operate at peak performance more often than not. A 12-pack starts at $20.
Red light therapy uses low-wavelength red light to supply your cell mitochondria with extra energy to boost new cell growth.
It has been shown to have many positive health effects, such as improved collagen production, wound healing, and muscle recovery; reduced inflammation; decreased pain; and improved mental acuity.
In particular, recent studies have shown that red light therapy could assist exercise performance and recovery, two very helpful things for heart health.
A study in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation found that “light therapy also promotes the growth of healthy muscle tissue, or muscle hypertrophy, naturally increasing muscle size and bulk—as well as strength.”
Red light therapy devices allow you to bring red light therapy to your home. They essentially replicate the light your body gets from natural sunlight without the heat or UV rays. JOOVV is one of the top brands in this space, but they are pricey at more than $500.
With long hours and plenty of competition, it’s no secret that stress and sleep are among the biggest health concerns of CEOs. Stress is also a very common risk factor when it comes to heart disease. At the most basic level, stress triggers inflammation, which can ultimately lead to heart disease.
However, stress and sleep problems often affect the rest of your healthy habits. Your nutritious diet might go out the window with a little bit of stress eating and a lack of sleep. And we all know it’s next to impossible to find the will to exercise when we’re tired.
But like just about everything these days, there is an app for that. Calm and Headspace are two of the most popular ones. They both produce guided meditations to help you manage your stress and provide sleep soundtracks and breathing exercises to help you sleep better. Not sure which to choose? Here is an article comparing both options.
Both are free to download and offer limited free features but cost $69.99 per month for an annual subscription and access to their full complement of features. We all already spend enough time on our phones. With these apps, you can use some of that time to improve your health.
Let’s assume you’re doing all these things. You’re living a largely healthy lifestyle. Now you need someway to track your progress. Something that gives you the ability to know when you’re improving, when you’re sustaining, and when you might need to re-focus.
While an Apple Watch or Fitbit is a useful tool for fitness tracking worn on your wrist, an Oura ring is worn as a ring on one of your fingers.
It analyzes your sleep, your activity levels, and how ready you are to take on the day. It can also track your heart rate, your body’s recovery rate. It even gives you a “readiness score” every day and recommends an activity level based on your recent data. They start at around $300.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention another thing that can help take your heart health to the next level – a high-quality, personal relationship with your healthcare team. That team includes your primary care doctor and maybe even a health coach.
As a concierge medicine practice, we provide both to our patients. You get personalized care for a physician who has the time to guide your healthy lifestyle and access to on-staff certified health coaches who can help formulate a plan and hold you accountable to it. In fact, all these products were recommended by one of our health coaches. Learn more about membership at PartnerMD here.
Virginia Council of CEOs (VACEOs) is a nonprofit organization connecting CEOs for learning and growth. Formed more than 20 years ago, member benefits include placement in a peer roundtable group and access to a thought leader network, and a robust program of events for learning and growth. This is not a networking group, but rather a group of CEO peers who are invested in the success of each member. To qualify for membership CEOs must run a business with $1M+ revenue and 5+FTEs. Learn more at www.vaceos.org.