Taking on Heart Disease: My Path to Better Health

Taking on Heart Disease: My Path to Better Health

It has been 8 years since I was diagnosed with Heart Disease (Coronary Artery Disease). My blood tests were mostly normal and there were no real red flags. And yet, there I was: at the 98th percentile of calcification of my arteries for my age.

Once I was over the initial shock, I realized I was actually incredibly lucky. Cardiovascular disease accounts for more deaths (32%) than the next 4 biggest causes of death combined (all the cancers, respiratory disease, diabetes and dementia). According to Stanford Health, among South Asians, heart attacks are happening earlier (25% of heart attacks occur under age 40, and 50% occur under age 50) and with higher mortality rates (there is a 40% higher chance of mortality from heart attacks among South Asians than the average population).

It led to me making a lot of changes to my lifestyle (food, exercise, sleep) in ways that did not require me to give up eating and doing all the things I love. To ensure my changes were medically, scientifically and nutritionally sound, I worked very closely with a number of amazing clinicians, dietitians and exercise trainers.

I am sharing a few of the improvements I have seen in my health parameters through this journey to demonstrate how effective these changes have been while being quite simple to implement. Moving forward, I will share my learnings and observations on these interventions through my GeneClinicX Instagram account and on my LinkedIn account, that I hope can help those of you that are looking for sustainable and fun ways to stay or become healthy. Your feedback and questions are very welcome!
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Swapna Gadgil Gambhir: How fantastic. Genes load the gun and we pull the trigger. You have managed to stop inadvertently pulling that trigger. You are the poster boy of Lifestyle Medicine Nickhil. 👏🏽👏🏽 I have great hope that you will inspire others to follow your suit.

Nickhil Jakatdar: Swapna thanks! Excited about this being your focus area as well moving forward.

Swapna Gadgil Gambhir: I feel very passionately about this. I’ve seen the benefits of “living well” personally as well as professionally in so many patients and people I coach. You have the all important lived experience, a curious mindset and the enterprise to take things forward. I wish you every success in your endeavours. ♥️ Would love to listen/spectate/ask questions at one of your seminars.

Nickhil Jakatdar: Swapna I would love that! Will keep you posted.

Swapna Gadgil Gambhir: Nickhil Jakatdar love your BCA stats… but as an Anaesthetist, I would be a little worried to have a patient with a HR below 40 🙈😂😂

Nickhil Jakatdar: Swapna I know. I get that a lot from my PCP’s Nurse Practitioner who is always worried I am going to pass out. 🙂

Swapna Gadgil Gambhir: Yes. I understand their concern. Wouldn’t want to give you an anaesthetic or look after you in ICU. And not only because I care for your well-being. It’s also my well-being I’m worried about 😂😂

Swapna Gadgil Gambhir

Vinita Sud Belani: Thank you for sharing and bringing awareness to this issue! That’s the first step…

Nickhil Jakatdar: Vinita thanks. You are right about awareness being a critical first step. If only we knew so many things earlier … but it’s still not too late for most of us.

Vinita Sud Belani

Shirish Patwardhan: Wonderful! Thanks for sharing Nickhil Jakatdar. One doubt – The process practised while reaching from the earlier parameters to the current ones, is it now any different when you now keep the parameters steady?

Nickhil Jakatdar: Shirish it’s the same lifestyle habits with modifications. No major change. Basically slow and steady wins the race.

Shirish Patwardhan

Neeraj Choudhary: Fantastic progress Nickhil Jakatdar – curious to learn if you use a personal device to track daily/weekly/monthly specific attributes.

Nickhil Jakatdar: Neeraj I use or have used almost every sensor in play. A Fitbit Inspire, Oura ring, Whoop band, Apple Watch, Continuous Glucose Monitor, Body Composition Analysis scale, etc. All very helpful to provide feedback on the interventions.

Lars Markwort: Nickhil Jakatdar Please share your insights on these devices. What’s useful for what exactly?

Nickhil Jakatdar: Lars will do.

Neeraj Choudhary

Sanjay Bhargava: Very nice. How do you measure visceral fat and muscle mass? I lowered my HBA1C from 7.2 to 6.1 and lost 11 lbs. Combination of regulating food intake, exercise to build large muscles and medicine. My feeling is 70% medicine ( added vidagliptin to metformin), 20% exercise and 10% food but still experimenting and I think if you relax too much on any one parameter you can lose control.

Nickhil Jakatdar: I use a body composition analysis tool like InBody to measure visceral fat and muscle mass. I would be very curious to see how that 11 lbs went down – visceral fat vs subcutaneous fat vs muscle mass. Once at a steady state post 3 months of medication, I have found it is 70% food and 30% exercise (more strength training than cardio). Both have to evolve in parallel. I was able to get my HbA1c down from 6.2 to 5.6 without meds.

Sanjay Bhargava: Thanks have to get our complex to get an inBody machine. I know the my belly went down 1 inch. I have been advised by my docs that getting off Metformin and a Gliptin are not great goals to have as it seems these modern medicines have positive side effects rather than negative side effects. According to them it is the troika that works- meds, exercise and diet. It seems the gliptin improves insulin uptake by the body which is helped by exercising large muscles so your body does not have excess insulin which helps cut cravings. On wait and watch. It seems that I should not get disappointed if I do not hit 5.7 as 6.1 is good enough to maintain. next test in four months.

Nickhil Jakatdar: There is some new early research that seems to suggest that Metformin has some positive impact on a longer health span. It hasn’t been proven conclusively but folks like David Sinclair seem to swear by it.

Sanjay Bhargava

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