In the Journals

Q&A: Exercise beneficial for CVD risk reduction

Pritha P. Gupta

Exercise is one of the many ways patients can reduce their risk for CVD. This can be easily accomplished through a brisk walk to attending exercise classes.

To conclude Heart Health Month, Cardiology Today spoke with Pritha P. Gupta, MD, PhD, clinical instructor at UCLA Health, about the importance of exercise and how to effectively and safely start a new regimen.

 

Question: What are the benefits of working out with a heart rate monitor?

Answer: Exercise is such an essential component of your overall cardiovascular health. Although heart rate monitors do not directly measure caloric expenditure, they can estimate how many calories you are burning during cardiovascular exercise. One of the major benefits of a heart rate monitor is knowing whether or not your heart rate is in your target aerobic range. Generally, we say that 220 minus your age is the maximum heart rate to achieve for a safe cardiovascular workout. If your heart rate is anywhere from 70% to 80% of that maximum number, you are likely getting a good cardiovascular workout.

Exercise is a significant way to reduce CVD risk
Photo source: Shutterstock.com

 

Q: What exercise programs do you recommend for patients who are looking to reduce their risk for heart disease?

A: For overall cardiovascular health, the American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days a week for a total of 150 minutes a week. Moderate intensity could be a brisk walk or jog on flat ground mixed with some hills and inclines. Alternatively, one could do 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days a week for a total of 75 minutes a week.

 

Burn 60, a gym in West Hollywood, California, offers high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which is a form of vigorous exercise. HIIT involves short bursts of intense activity with alternating periods of rest. It is beneficial because it allows you to accomplish the same amount of exercise and fat burn in less time. These intense workouts require more oxygen, which is why these workouts help you burn more fat and calories in a shorter time. In addition, a HIIT work out can translate into a metabolism boost for up to 48 hours after your workout, which can also help with fat loss.

 

In addition to aerobic exercise, muscle strengthening is also important. The AHA recommends moderate to high intensity muscle strengthening activity at least 2 days a week. Studies have shown that muscle strength training can help reduce your blood pressure, reduce your cholesterol and even improve sleep.

Q: Are there any harms for patients who are at risk for heart disease who are looking into HIIT or other exercise programs?

A: If you are a young and healthy person, you will likely tolerate HIIT without any issue. If you have a history of heart disease, you should consult your physician prior to starting a high-intensity workout regimen.

 

No matter your age, gender or history of heart disease, if you are feeling uncomfortable with activity — for example, chest pain, shortness of breath or reduced exercise tolerance — a physician should be consulted.

 

Q: Is there anything else patients can do in addition to exercise to reduce their risk for heart disease?

A: As I mentioned, exercise is such an essential part of your CV health, but it is all in conjunction with having a good balanced diet. I always tell my patients that a plant-based diet is the best thing out there. Three-fourths of your plate should be vegetables and fruit, complemented by whole grains, lean meats such as chicken without the skin, fish, legumes and/or nuts.

 

Q: What further research is needed in this area?

A: Exercise and its effects on your body have been researched for a long, long time, but that’s not to say more research isn’t needed in this area. For example, we need more research in women and people of other ethnicities to diversify our knowledge of exercise and its effects on our bodies.

 

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women. One in four women die of heart disease. That’s an unfortunate number that must change. In the past, most studies have involved only male subjects. This is true even for animal research. This research bias has led to development of therapies that are not only less effective in women, but that may have a totally different side effect profile in women.

 

But the future does look brighter for gender-specific research in cardiovascular disease. In the era of precision medicine, there is mass collection of genetic information from both men and women equally. We hope that this can bridge some of the gender gap in cardiovascular research. – by Darlene Dobkowski

For more information:

Pritha P. Gupta, MD, PhD, can be reached at Beverly Hills – Primary & Specialty Care, 8641 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 210, Beverly Hills, CA 90211.

Disclosure: Gupta reports no relevant financial disclosures.

Pritha P. Gupta

Exercise is one of the many ways patients can reduce their risk for CVD. This can be easily accomplished through a brisk walk to attending exercise classes.

To conclude Heart Health Month, Cardiology Today spoke with Pritha P. Gupta, MD, PhD, clinical instructor at UCLA Health, about the importance of exercise and how to effectively and safely start a new regimen.

 

Question: What are the benefits of working out with a heart rate monitor?

Answer: Exercise is such an essential component of your overall cardiovascular health. Although heart rate monitors do not directly measure caloric expenditure, they can estimate how many calories you are burning during cardiovascular exercise. One of the major benefits of a heart rate monitor is knowing whether or not your heart rate is in your target aerobic range. Generally, we say that 220 minus your age is the maximum heart rate to achieve for a safe cardiovascular workout. If your heart rate is anywhere from 70% to 80% of that maximum number, you are likely getting a good cardiovascular workout.

Exercise is a significant way to reduce CVD risk
Photo source: Shutterstock.com

 

Q: What exercise programs do you recommend for patients who are looking to reduce their risk for heart disease?

A: For overall cardiovascular health, the American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days a week for a total of 150 minutes a week. Moderate intensity could be a brisk walk or jog on flat ground mixed with some hills and inclines. Alternatively, one could do 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days a week for a total of 75 minutes a week.

 

Burn 60, a gym in West Hollywood, California, offers high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which is a form of vigorous exercise. HIIT involves short bursts of intense activity with alternating periods of rest. It is beneficial because it allows you to accomplish the same amount of exercise and fat burn in less time. These intense workouts require more oxygen, which is why these workouts help you burn more fat and calories in a shorter time. In addition, a HIIT work out can translate into a metabolism boost for up to 48 hours after your workout, which can also help with fat loss.

 

In addition to aerobic exercise, muscle strengthening is also important. The AHA recommends moderate to high intensity muscle strengthening activity at least 2 days a week. Studies have shown that muscle strength training can help reduce your blood pressure, reduce your cholesterol and even improve sleep.

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Q: Are there any harms for patients who are at risk for heart disease who are looking into HIIT or other exercise programs?

A: If you are a young and healthy person, you will likely tolerate HIIT without any issue. If you have a history of heart disease, you should consult your physician prior to starting a high-intensity workout regimen.

 

No matter your age, gender or history of heart disease, if you are feeling uncomfortable with activity — for example, chest pain, shortness of breath or reduced exercise tolerance — a physician should be consulted.

 

Q: Is there anything else patients can do in addition to exercise to reduce their risk for heart disease?

A: As I mentioned, exercise is such an essential part of your CV health, but it is all in conjunction with having a good balanced diet. I always tell my patients that a plant-based diet is the best thing out there. Three-fourths of your plate should be vegetables and fruit, complemented by whole grains, lean meats such as chicken without the skin, fish, legumes and/or nuts.

 

Q: What further research is needed in this area?

A: Exercise and its effects on your body have been researched for a long, long time, but that’s not to say more research isn’t needed in this area. For example, we need more research in women and people of other ethnicities to diversify our knowledge of exercise and its effects on our bodies.

 

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women. One in four women die of heart disease. That’s an unfortunate number that must change. In the past, most studies have involved only male subjects. This is true even for animal research. This research bias has led to development of therapies that are not only less effective in women, but that may have a totally different side effect profile in women.

 

But the future does look brighter for gender-specific research in cardiovascular disease. In the era of precision medicine, there is mass collection of genetic information from both men and women equally. We hope that this can bridge some of the gender gap in cardiovascular research. – by Darlene Dobkowski

For more information:

Pritha P. Gupta, MD, PhD, can be reached at Beverly Hills – Primary & Specialty Care, 8641 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 210, Beverly Hills, CA 90211.

Disclosure: Gupta reports no relevant financial disclosures.