Dr. Sayeh Zielke is a cardiologist based in Lethbridge, Alberta.


When she first decided to study cardiology, Dr. Z was excited at the idea of helping patients survive heart attacks — and she knew she’d have plenty of opportunities, since every 7 minutes someone in Canada dies from heart disease or stroke. [Heart Research Institute]


But her perspective has evolved since then. She has formed long-term relationships with the patients in her practice, and the last thing she wants is for any of them to suffer another health crisis. Instead, she wants to prevent any more critical episodes. The question is, how do we avoid such disease in the first place, and how do we keep it from progressing once it’s started? Part of the answer is: by managing a few key risk factors, including hypertension, smoking, high bad cholesterol and low good cholesterol, physical inactivity, obesity, diabetes, and uncontrolled stress and anger.


Hypertension and the other risk factors for heart disease can be approached and avoided, to a certain extent, by adopting specific habits, especially dietary habits and exercise. There are medications proven to help to manage cardiovascular disease, and comprise a necessary and important part of many patients’ treatment, but medication plus a healthy lifestyle can accomplish even more. 


Dr. Z always wished she could spend a whole day with each of her patients, to put together a comprehensive lifestyle plan. She wished she had reading material to hand over, but she couldn’t find many resources that met her criteria — clear, comprehensive, and based on evidence supported by research and guidelines. That’s why she wrote her book, One Heart, Five Habits: A Cardiologist’s Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure through Healthy Lifestyle Practices, and why she created the One Heart Five Habits app. Inspired by her patients, by the millions of people in her country and worldwide whose hearts and arteries suffer unnecessary damage from hypertension, and by the billions more who will develop hypertension if they don’t make lifestyle changes to prevent it, she has tried to distill the evidence and recommendations in current guidelines, along with practical advice to offer these five habits to help you control your blood pressure.

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