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Yoga is not enough to hold back cardiac problems, top doctor warns

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Movement is essential for a healthy heart. Exercise reduces blood fat levels and dilates the arteries. So how about yoga, which is hugely trendy among women in many of the world’s bigger cities?

“It’s not enough to go to yoga, says Thomas Meinertz, head of the German heart foundation. The professor recommends exercise sessions at least two or three times a week.

“You can do yoga as well, but endurance training is important for the heart,” Meinertz says, listing jogging, cycling and brisk walking as useful activities.

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Eating healthily is essential as well, with the so-called “Mediterranean Diet” highly rated. This does not mean endless pasta, but rather vegetables, fruit and a diet containing fish rather than meat.

Thomas Meinertz -chairman of the German Heart Foundation,

Thomas Meinertz, chairman of the German Heart Foundation, (File photo, 11.09.2015. Please credit: “Joerg Carstensen / dpa”.)

The right fats and oils are also important. Cooking with olive oil rather than butter is recommended. “It is unnecessary to resort to food supplements,” Meinertz says, with the exception of those adopting a vegan diet.

Vegans have to ensure that they receive all the essential nutrients, some of which are difficult to source from a diet without animal products.

Obesity is unlikely to develop with correct nutrition. Here too the Mediterranean diet can help. Obese people have a considerably higher risk of heart disease. This applies in particular to people with high visceral fat, the heart foundation cautions.

A waist measurement taken below the lowest rib should not exceed 94 centimetres for men and 80 centimetres for women.

Hypertension – elevated blood pressure – as well as high cholesterol and blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels and lead to a heart attack.

The problem is that people with these conditions are often unaware of them. The heart foundation recommends regular medical checks that can often be carried out at a pharmacy.

Blood pressure should not exceed 140/90 mm of mercury. According to Meinertz, the LDL cholesterol level should not exceed 110 in a healthy person, and blood sugar should be below 100.

In the event of a heart attack, help must be sought immediately. For this the patient must realize that something is wrong.

People should be aware of their bodies, Meinertz says.

“If for example you feel pressure in your chest when exerting yourself that was not there before, you shouldn’t simply accept it and go on.”

dpa