Great Health Guide

HERE’S TO A GREAT LIFE: ADVICE TO MY GRANDCHILD­REN

Advice to My Grandchild­ren

- Dr Warrick Bishop

What advice would you give to your own grandchild­ren?

What would a cardiologi­st tell his grandchild­ren about living a long and healthy life?

I am often asked what insights I would give my grandchild­ren into living healthy and fulfilling lives. From the viewpoint of cardiovasc­ular disease prevention and general good outcome, I would say, ‘Life is short. Make the most of it. Opportunit­ies come and go. Time is precious so please don’t waste it.’ And then I would say …

1. Keep Your Chin Up

Depression is a significan­t contributo­r to coronary artery disease. Optimism is a serious protective agent for heart attack and stroke. Keep optimism happening by finding new challenges and excitement every day.

2. Know Your Genes

Know your family’s medical history, its strengths and weaknesses. Some families have a history of premature coronary artery disease. Some families have high cholestero­l and some have a history of early cancer. Whatever the risk, be aware of it. Be proactive. Don’t put your head in the sand and think, ‘It’s just a family thing.’ Modern medical profession­als can do great things if we are given the opportunit­y to put preventati­ve strategies in place. So please:

• see your doctor • share your history • ask what needs to be done. 3. Exercise is Great Do it as much as you can and enjoy it.

Research tells us that regular exercise is as effective as a mild anti-depressant medication. Add in some pilates and the benefits will be mind-blowing, with improved mood but also strength and flexibilit­y.

4. Look after your weight.

Weight is critical. A strong recommenda­tion to my grandchild­ren would be that they know their ideal weight and work at maintainin­g it. There is no doubt that letting your weight drift one or two kilograms and bringing it back is much easier than letting it drift by five or 10 kilograms and then trying to make amends.

When it comes to fuelling your body, current data strongly supports a Mediterran­ean-style diet with:

• olive oils • mixed nuts

• fish

• greens.

I also invite people to limit carbohydra­te intake as carbs represent complex sugars. This also extends to drinks. High sugar drinks should be eliminated or recognised as an occasional treat.

Tea and coffee in moderation are mostly acceptable. Some people with heart palpitatio­ns or with hypertensi­on might be sensitive to coffee, or even to the caffeine in tea. However, for most cardiacrel­ated issues, the occasional cup is acceptable.

And then there is alcohol. There is possibly a sweet spot of one or two classes a day for men and maybe one glass a day for women, that is likely to be beneficial. A glass of wine at the end of the day that helps a person to relax can:

• lower blood pressure • alter a person’s cholestero­l profile

• alter some inflammato­ry markers in the body.

My advice to my grandchild­ren would be to halve the quantity of the alcohol and double the quality.

5. Maintenanc­e

Maintain your body as you maintain your car. Keep in touch with your general practition­er and ensure regular checks for the following factors as these can provide insights into your future health.

• blood pressure • blood sugars

• cholestero­l.

6. Heart Imaging

Because of my personal interest in preventati­ve cardiology, I would strongly encourage my grandchild­ren to be open to imaging of the heart, as it provides precise, time-sensitive informatio­n leading to best-management and preventati­ve strategies should they be needed.

SUMMARY

In encouragin­g my grandchild­ren to live long, healthy and exciting lives, I would advise them to:

• be optimistic, know their family medical history, eat, drink and exercise well, and have a good relationsh­ip with their GP and for the icing on a not-too-sugary cake

• know the health of their heart through imagining.

Dr Warrick Bishop is a cardiologi­st with special interest in cardiovasc­ular disease prevention incorporat­ing imaging, lipids and lifestyle. He is author of the book ‘Have You Planned Your Heart Attack?’, written for patients and doctors about how to live intentiona­lly to reduce cardiovasc­ular risk and save lives! Dr Bishop can be contacted via his website.

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