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A top doctor from Cleveland Clinic, America’s number one heart hospital, according to U.S. News & World Report, says Indians are ignoring lifestyle hazards that could cause life-threatening illnesses.

Speaking after the recent World Heart Day, Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Umesh N. Khot, M.D. said people exhibiting high-risk conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol and excess belly fat, among others, were failing to ditch unhealthy habits, despite knowing they faced above-average chances of having heart attacks and strokes.

Khot, who is Vice Chairman, Cardiovascular Medicine, and Chief Quality Officer, at Ohio’s Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute, said: “Diabetes, high cholesterol and being overweight are among the risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and patients with these conditions need to take extra care to modify unhealthy habits,” he said.

“But many of the people at greatest risk of serious heart and circulatory problems fail to take responsibility for their health.”

Cardiovascular disease is India’s number-one killer, causing around a third of deaths each year, the World Health Organization has stated. Yet most cases are easily preventable, Khot says. His core messages are to avoid smoking, drink less alcohol, and take regular exercise. Indians should also maintain a healthy weight and eat a healthy diet, characterized by plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and fish. Actively managing stress is also important, as is taking any existing medication exactly as prescribed.

Tips for a Healthy Heart

For 23 years, Cleveland Clinic’s Cardiovascular Institute has been rated the United States’ number one heart hospital, according to the U.S. News & World Report.1

Khot says Indians can better manage four factors – blood pressure, blood sugar (fasting glucose), cholesterol, and waist circumference.

Blood Pressure

Blood pressure often rises with age. High blood pressure (hypertension) can often go unnoticed, yet raises the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other conditions.

Hypertension can be avoided by:

  • Eating a nutritious and well balanced, low-sodium diet
  • Exercising and maintaining a healthy weight
  • Not smoking
  • Managing stress
  • Minimizing alcohol consumption
  • Taking medication exactly as prescribed

Blood Sugar

Insulin transforms glucose from your food into energy. If your body can’t make insulin or respond well to it, glucose builds up in the blood, damaging vessels and nerves. Adults with diabetes are more likely to have heart disease or stroke caused by excessive blood sugar. Blood glucose levels can be controlled by:

  • Losing weight
  • Eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, and whole grains
  • Cutting back on sugars and foods high in refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, white flour, and white rice
  • Taking at least 30 minutes of moderate to high-intensity exercise at least five times a week


A major cause of coronary heart disease is a kind of cholesterol called low-density lipoprotein (LPL) or bad cholesterol. Bad cholesterol is a major cause of coronary heart disease. It’s the culprit behind most cholesterol build-up and arterial blockages. If you’re healthy, your cholesterol should be checked every five years starting at age 20. Cholesterol can be reduced by:

  • Eating a Mediterranean diet2
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Getting at least 30 minutes of moderate to high-intensity exercise at least five times a week
  • Taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, if prescribed to you by a doctor

Waist Circumference
As your waist circumference rises, so does your risk of heart disease, hypertension and type 2 diabetes. Having an ‘apple’ shape, where fat sits around your middle, is more dangerous for you than having a ‘pear’ shape, where fat sits around your hips. To reduce belly fat:

  • Take at least 30 minutes of moderate or high-intensity exercise at least five times a week
  • Try power-walking, swimming, cycling, or aerobics
  • Give up processed and fast foods, reduce your alcohol intake, and embrace a healthy Mediterranean-style diet

For many patients, treatment abroad becomes their best guarantee of fast, effective medical care. In total, patients from 185 countries received treatment at Cleveland Clinic hospitals during 2016, with centers in the United States in Ohio and Florida, as well as an expanding international network.

Nearly 300 patients have traveled from India to Cleveland Clinic’s main campus since 2014 to seek treatment for the most complex cases. In addition, Cleveland Clinic provides unparalleled second opinion services to Indian patients, and, in doing so, helps India’s physicians shoulder the immense burden of treating increasing numbers of very difficult cases.

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