Expert’s Advice: 5 Realistic Ways To Keep Our Hearts Healthy

Back in the day, heart attack cases mostly happen to someone of age like 50 years old and above. As you’ve noticed in the movies, a heart attack happens to “old” characters like grandparents, etc.

This traitor’s disease, also known as non-communicable disease or lifestyle disease, happens when you least expect it.

So, since February is Heart Month, we asked a Cardiologist to give pieces of advice to have a healthy heart.

Dr. Rex vener Palma

I met Dr. Rex Vener Palma through our amazing family doctor, Dr. Jose Jose, an ENT and Cosmetic Surgeon. I went for a checkup due to chest pains and dizziness last month. I was advised to do 2D Echo, lab tests, the whole nine yards. Thankfully, after several opinions (and depletion of savings), Dr. Palma ruled out symptoms of heart attack. It was something else. It’s also serious, but manageable. In fact, all chronic diseases are manageable and preventable – only if we do things in moderation.

healthy breakfast ideas

Read: Healthy Breakfast Ideas

When In Manila Millie: Hi, Doc! Thank you for allowing us to interview you. Could you please give a few realistic ways to have a healthy heart?

Dr. Palma: Heart disease is the number 1 killer in the Philippines today. We, cardiologists (Philippine Heart Association), devised simple steps/ways of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It has been part of our advocate, to reduce the risk of heart disease and we dubbed it 5-2-1-0-0 (Do 52100 daily!).

5. Proper Diet

5 – for 5 servings of fruits and vegetables


We should have more of the vegetables, and fruits in our daily meals, and less of the non-essential, and what we call junk foods or fast foods. Get low in salt content, limit saturated fat (animal fats), trans fat, and red meat.

When In Manila Millie: I love eggs. My kids’ favorite sandwich is egg sandwich. I’m worried, though, as we might develop high cholesterol. So, I’d like to know, how often can we eat eggs? 

Dr. Palma: There was once, or still an ongoing confusion regarding eggs, whether they do more good or harm in our health. Let’s take a look at the nutritional of an egg: 1 large egg contains 213 mg of cholesterol, accounting for 2/3 of the recommended daily allowance for individuals with normal cholesterol levels (300mg/day). Recommended daily allowance for individuals with high cholesterol is even lower, at 200mg/day. Common sense would dictate, that if we eat eggs daily, especially with the egg yolk, it would likely to elevate our cholesterol level, which is a significant risk factor for heart disease. Remember that when we consume an egg, it’s not the only cholesterol source that we take for the rest of the day- take note of the oil we used to cook it, the next meals that we will take containing cholesterol, the butter, and cheese that we use in the bread, etc…

So how often can we eat eggs? Certainly not everyday, as the old adage goes: “An egg a day keeps the doctors away”. There is no hard and fast rule as to how many can we safely consume but keep in mind when we consume an egg, that was taking 2/3 of our daily cholesterol allowance, and so we should be conscious of limiting our subsequent fat intake.

4. Exercise

3 simple ways to step up food game exercise

Take advantage of Tagaytay Medical Center’s cardio promos. This month, all cardio-related services such as stress test, 2D Echo, ECG,  have 10% discounts. 

2 – for 2 hours only, maximum of screen time (TV, Laptop, Computer games).

When In Manila Millie: “Doc, grabe naman!

But work is life, LOL!

Dr. Palma: Move your butts! We should go out there and be physically active! Limit inactivity to just 2 hours. Even so, you can still be active while watching TV, like, doing squats, jumping jack, or running on a treadmill while watching your favorite teleserye.

1 – for 1 hour of moderate physical activity and exercise

Preferably aerobic exercise (like jogging, brisk walking or biking), at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity at least 5 days a week, or at least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week. (American Heart Association recommendation). If it sounds like too much, don’t worry. “Something is always better than nothing!” At least start somewhere. 5 minutes of walking initially, or try to walk to your school or office, take the stairs to the 3rd floor of your building, walk your dog around your village. Try to progress your activity regularly until you develop your rhythm, and endurance, then you can now aim to achieve your goal.

When In Manila Millie: Is it true that too much exercise is bad for our heart too?

Dr. Palma: Generally, exercise training provides benefit to our heart. However, there is a dictum in almost everything in life. “Too much or too less of something is bad.” So it goes too with exercise. Too much exercise can also cause problems. The effect may be observed in 2 populations: 1. In young, seemingly healthy individuals or athletes, wherein, vigorous training may unmask a chronic problem, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or congenital problem such as anomalous origin of the coronary arteries, which may cause sudden cardiac death or arrhythmia. 2. In older adults, wherein vigorous exercise may precipitate acute myocardial infarction or sudden cardiac death due to atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. So whether you are an ordinary individual or a world class athlete, without any heart symptom- (chest pain or shortness of breath), it is prudent to have your heart checked with a cardiologist periodically, and stick to a good physiologic exercise plan, and make sure not to overdo it.

When In Manila Millie: I agree. We really have to maintain at least a simple workout routine. You mentioned, “52-100,” what’s the “00?”

3. Say NO to Sugary foods and sweetened beverages

0 – for 0 sugary foods and sweetened beverages.

Ideally, say no to sugar and sugary foods. Or at least, cut your regular sugar use to at least half or 75%.


0 – for 0 or No to smoking or second-hand smoking.

Support the advocacy to ban smoking. Smoking does not provide any benefit and does only harm to our heart and to our health in general. Even second-hand smoking deals damages to our health, similar to that of smokers. So folks, if you smoke, I hope you think of your loved ones around you, your children, or even the unborn child in a mother’s womb. They do not deserve to be exposed to a health hazard, and I know, you would not want them to suffer unnecessarily too!

1. Proper Mindset and Motivation

Dr. Palma: I think this is the most important. Have the proper mindset and motivation to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Make sure you set aside 1-2 hours of our daily life to slow down, exercise, breathe fresh air, be with your family, play with your kids, meditate, and enjoy life!

Nuvali activities

If you have the time and budget, try visiting the nearest park in your area.

Taken at Nuvali.

Well said, Doc!

Dr. Palma is currently the head of Cardiology department of Tagaytay Medical Center. He is a member of Philippine College of Physicians, Philippine Medical Association, and Philippine Heart Association. Dr. Palma specializes as an Internist, Cardiologist, and Vascular Medicine.

As we become a web-centric world, things are literally a click away. We don’t walk nor exert a little effort do something worthwhile anymore. Oftentimes, we take for granted the essential thing in our life: HEALTH. As what Doc said, “make it the number 1 and most important investment.”

Ultimately, when in doubt, always seek your doctor’s advice. Self-medication is the perennial problem in the Philippines due to expensive medical assistance.

At any rate, it is better to pay for something expensive than to lose the chances of being with your family and friends.

How about you – how do you keep your heart healthy? Share your tips in the comments!

Minor edits have been made.