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On this podcast, we discuss how the environment around you (your physical location, lifestyle choices and more) impact your heart health and what you can do about it.

Faraz Khan interviews Dr. Aruni Bhatnagar, who founded the field of environmental cardiology.

Dr. Aruni Bhatnagar is the Smith and Lucille Gibson Professor of Medicine, Director of the Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute, Co-Director of the American Heart Association Tobacco Regulation and Addiction Center, and a Distinguished University Scholar at the University of Louisville. Aruni has received numerous awards and honors over the course of his career, including being named a Fellow of the American Heart Association in 2005.

He also received the President’s Award for Outstanding Scholarship, Research and Creative Activity from the University of Louisville, the Partner in Healthcare Award, the Outstanding Faculty Mentor of Graduate Students and the Outstanding Mentor Award from the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools, and he was designated Research Exemplar by Washington University in St. Louis.  Hosts his own podcast called Elements of Nature

Dr. Aruni’s Background & Interest In The Heart

  • He was always interested in the heart. He worked with pacemakers during his PhD
  • He’s been curious why heart disease is the leading cause of death
  • Even with medical advancements, we have not been able to decrease the incidents of heart disease
  • A few years ago, he founded a new field called Environmental Cardiology
  • His primary research is in the mechanisms of how our environment affects heart health

What’s The Evidence That Heart Disease Is Related To Environment?

  • In China, there is 50% increase in incidents of heart disease, which was accompanied by the westernization of China
  • Finland had highest heart disease, once they got integrated into Europe the heart diseases rates plummeted
  • In pre-second world war England, heart disease was rare. After more industrialization, heart attacks went up

What Are The Environmental Factors That Impact Heart Health

  • Environmental factors, economic factors and personal choices affect heart health
  • Environmental factors: sunlight and vitamin D, day/night circadian rhythms, pollution all affect heart health.
  • Social factors: socioeconomic status, proximity to green spaces, features of built cities are important
  • Personal choices: smoking, alcohol, sleep, physical activity all play a part

How To Live In A City And Minimize Heart Damage

  • Light pollution and sound pollution are both harmful to heart health
  • Our mental health is improved when there are green spaces around us
  • If you live in cities, then try to live near a green area
  • Green spaces also clean the air, and air pollution kills more people than smoking
  • Noise is a big disruptor for sleep, disrupts attention and cause irritability
  • Don’t live near major freeways and live in quiet areas of the city
  • Have green areas in your yard – grow trees in your background

How Do Socio-economics Play A Role In Heart Health

  • It does matter – education and your money is important
  • Your mothers education impacts your heart health
  • If you’re well off, you tend to hang with other well off people.
  • Similar for smokers, obese vs non-obese, people find a tribe thats similar to them
  • It’s important to choose your friends wisely

How Do Personal Lifestyle Choices Affect Heart Disease?

  • Physical activity is extremely important – because sitting is the new smoking.
  • Obesity is stalling increase in life expectancy.
  • Nicotine and smoking are very bad for health. Even e-cigarettes could contribute to heart disease in the future.
  • Eating healthy food is extremely important
  • If we can fix these choices, it is predicted that heart disease rates will go down by 80%.

What Are Some Things We Can Do To Prevent Heart Attacks?

  • Lowering blood pressure is extremely important
  • Good blood flow is also important – work on have a great circulation system
  • Insulin resistance must be avoided too – diabetics have 2-3x the risk of heart disease
  • Keep inflammation low

Where To Find Dr. Bhatnagar

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