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The omega-3 fatty acids in fish are good for your heart. Find out why the heart-healthy benefits of eating fish usually outweigh any risks.
If you're worried about heart disease, eating one to two servings of fish a week could reduce your risk of dying of a heart attack.
For many years, the American Heart Association has recommended that people eat fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids at least twice a week. Doctors have long believed that the unsaturated fats in fish, called omega-3 fatty acids, are the nutrients that reduce the risk of dying of heart disease. However, more recent research suggests that other nutrients in fish or a combination of omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients in fish may actually be responsible for the health benefits from fish.
Some people are concerned that mercury or other contaminants in fish may outweigh its heart-healthy benefits. However, when it comes to a healthier heart, the benefits of eating fish usually outweigh the possible risks of exposure to contaminants. Find out how to balance these concerns with adding a healthy amount of fish to your diet.
What are omega-3 fatty acids, and why are they good for your heart?
Fish contain unsaturated fatty acids, which, when substituted for saturated fatty acids such as those in meat, may lower your cholesterol. But the main beneficial nutrient appears to be omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of unsaturated fatty acid that may reduce inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation in the body can damage your blood vessels and lead to heart disease.
Omega-3 fatty acids may decrease triglycerides, lower blood pressure, reduce blood clotting, decrease stroke and heart failure risk, reduce irregular heartbeats, and in children may improve learning ability. Eating at least one to two servings a week of fish, particularly fish that's rich in omega-3 fatty acids, appears to reduce the risk of heart disease, particularly sudden cardiac death.
Does it matter what kind of fish you eat?
Fatty fish, such as salmon, lake trout, herring, sardines and tuna, contain the most omega-3 fatty acids and therefore the most benefit, but many types of seafood contain small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
Are there any kinds of fish you should avoid?
Some fish, such as tilapia and catfish, don't appear to be as heart healthy because they contain higher levels of unhealthy fatty acids. Keep in mind that any fish can be unhealthy depending on how it's prepared. For example, broiling or baking fish is a healthier option than is deep-frying.
Some researchers are concerned about eating fish produced on farms as opposed to wild-caught fish. Researchers think antibiotics, pesticides and other chemicals used in raising farmed fish may cause harmful effects to people who eat the fish.
How much fish should you eat?
For adults, at least two servings of omega-3-rich fish a week are recommended. A serving size is 3.5 ounces (99 grams), or about the size of a deck of cards. Women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant and young children should limit the amount of fish they eat because they're most susceptible to the potential effects of toxins in fish.
The risk of getting too much mercury or other contaminants from fish is generally outweighed by the health benefits that omega-3 fatty acids have. The main types of toxins in fish are mercury, dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The amount of toxins depends on the type of fish and where it's caught.
Mercury occurs naturally in small amounts in the environment. But industrial pollution can produce mercury that accumulates in lakes, rivers and oceans, which turns up in the food fish eat. When fish eat this food, mercury builds up in the bodies of the fish.
Large fish that are higher in the food chain ? such as shark, tilefish, swordfish and king mackerel ? tend to have higher levels of mercury than do smaller fish. Larger fish eat the smaller fish, gaining higher concentrations of the toxin. The longer a fish lives, the larger it grows and the more mercury it can collect.
Pay attention to the type of fish you eat, how much you eat and other information such as state advisories. Each state issues advisories regarding the safe amount of locally caught fish that can be consumed.
Should anyone avoid eating fish because of the concerns over mercury or other contaminants?
If you eat enough fish containing mercury, the toxin can accumulate in your body. It can take as long as a year or more for your body to remove these toxins. Mercury is particularly harmful to the development of the brain and nervous system of unborn children and young children. For most adults, however, it's unlikely that mercury would cause any health concerns.
Still, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend that these groups limit the amount of fish they eat:
Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant
Pregnant women, breast-feeding mothers and children can still get the heart-healthy benefits of fish by eating fish that's typically low in mercury, such as salmon, and limiting the amount they eat to:
No more than 12 ounces (340 grams) of fish in total a week
No more than 6 ounces (170 grams) of canned tuna a week
No amount of any fish that's typically high in mercury (shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish)
Are there any other concerns related to eating fish?
Several recent studies have linked high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood to an increased risk of prostate cancer. But, these studies weren't conclusive, and more research needs to be done to confirm this link. Talk with your doctor about what this potential risk might mean to you.
Can you get the same heart-health benefits by eating other foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids, or by taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements?
Eating fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients appears to provide more heart-healthy benefits than does using supplements. Other non fish food options that do contain some omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseed, flaxseed oil, walnuts, canola oil, soybeans and soybean oil. However, similar to supplements, the evidence of heart-healthy benefits from eating these foods isn't as strong as it is from eating fish.
What is the symptom of sugar and high blood pressure and flu as well, and what to do to keep blood pressure in control.
What types of yoga or exercise I should do for reducing LDL n increasing HDL. Similarly for vitamin B12 what type of diet I need to take. Thanks.
I am 24 years old. I have been suffering from pain in my left chest to left hand vein since two months. Until now, I did not contact any doctor. Pain be on slowly.
Cholesterol level are bit high in blood, but stress test found no angina no blockage was found in heart sonography and heart is perfectly ok. Nuthing found in chest x ray still having pain in chest wat could be the reason . Can anxiety causes chest pain ?
My wife, sesame Saha is 43 years old. Her BP is 200/100. She take one Amlong-H a day. Please suggest her diet to reduce Blood pressure and oblige me.
How to reduce LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol? What must be the diet to avoid high cholesterol?
My father is facing the heart problem in a long time. His bypass already done in the year of 2007. Now a days he is facing some problem so I want to know which kind of diet chart I have to maintain for my father.
I am 20 year old. I have been suffering from hypertension due to load of studies please suggest me some medicines.
I am 39 male, serum cholesterol 231, LDL 158, HDL 43, TGL 148, VLDL 29, FBS -92, BP 110/70 do I need to take medicine for cholesterol control.
Low blood pressure problem my foot are pain and my body feel tiredness. What is best solution my weight 62kg and age 24.
WHAT TO DO IF MY BODY TEMPERATURE SUDDENLY DROPPED TO 35.9 celsius? I HAVE NECK AND SPINE DISL RUPTURES AND BLOOD PRESSURE SOMETIMES GOES UP/DOWN. BUT WHAT ARE IMMEDIATE REMEDIES?
Can I take raw Aloe vera? I am diabetic and high bp. Lots of Aloe vera plant at my home. Please give me idea how I use it. I am taking raw Turmeric (1 piece) and Garlic (2 clove) every morning empty stomach. Thank you
Dear sir My BP reading is showing lesser than right arm Which arm we have to consider Is digital monitor show + or - readings.
Hello sir, I have a health problem. Sometime I feel pain in my chest. So I wanted suggest it's a normal are something serious. So please give me a suggestion what should do?
I am 46 years old. I am having acute pain from near the heart to the centre of stomach for nearly half hour to one hour. I am having this pain after having something to eat even after lunch and dinner and sometimes suddenly at midnight when I am unable to sleep the whole night. When there is pain I am even unable to breathe properly. The pain automatically subsides after sometime but when there is pain it feels that I will die. Please advice what medicines to take so that I can overcome this pain. I am not having pain in both the side of the stomach. Looking forward to receive your esteemed advice.
Holy month ramadan is auspicious for worldwide muslims and most of them starts fasting early in the morning up to the sunset in the evening during this entire month.
Heart disease patients tend to fast during ramadan but they have many questions:
1. Cardiac patients can fast?
The holy Quran exempts sick people from fasting. Fasting is allowed only for stable heart disease patient and it's strictly the discretion of the treating cardiologist.
Common types of cardiac conditions as follows:
A. Patients who had heart attack or recent stenting or open heart surgery
Many studies comparing ramadan with other months in cardiac patients shows there is no significant differences in the incidence of heart attack or typical cardiac chest pain during ramadan. Patients with recent acute heart attack, heart attack equivalent chest pain with high cardiac enzymes, recent stenting, recent open heart surgery should strictly avoid fasting.
B. Patients with low pumping of heart i. E, reduced ejection fraction
Low pumping of the heart is one of the common cause of frequent hospitalisations among cardiac patients. Many studies done in the middle east shows there was no significant difference in the number of hospitalizations for patients with low heart pumping during ramadan. Its almost similar to other months without fasting. But in this category certain groups of patients cannot fast especially patients with difficulty in breathing, associated swelling of legs, associated cough and sudden increase in weight.
C. Patients with high blood pressure.
Most of the high blood pressure patients on controlled medications can fast during ramadan as it will not affect the blood pressure readings and it was proved in many studies. Certain group of patients with resistant blood pressure who requires multiple drugs for controlling should consult treating doctors before ramadan for appropriate dose adjustments. If dose adjustment is not possible then for such patients it is advisable to abstain from fasting to avoid cardiac and other complications.
2. How to take their cardiac drugs during this month?
Stomach ulcer and related complications are common during ramadan. Hence drugs which can cause gastric irritation (like aspirin) should be taken as per the advice of treating doctor. Before ramadan you should consult your doctor and make sure regarding the dose and timing. Medications like water pill (lasix)to be avoided during fasting.
3. Lifestyle during ramadan
Avoid over eating while breaking the fast
Avoid exercise after a large meal
4. Can cardiac patients do hajj pilgrimage?
Cardiac patients who is certified as stable and fit by the treating cardiologist can go for hajj
Full medical workup is mandatory before hajj.
Patients with recent acute heart attack, heart attack equivalent chest pain with high cardiac enzymes, recent stenting, recent open heart surgery are unfit for hajj.
Take home messages-:
A. Consult your doctor before ramadan regarding your health condition and dose adjustments if required.
B. Comply to medication
C. High risk patients should avoid fasting
D. Unfit cardiac patients should not try hajj pilgrimage.