Public health advice promotes the importance of exercise for mental and physical health, but have you considered healthy choices you could be making that can help protect you in the long run?
While some people have been using the lockdown to start a new exercise habit, many have taken up new projects in the kitchen.
There is very clear evidence that a Mediterranean-style, plant-based diet is one of the best diets for cardiovascular disease prevention and even reversal of disease.
The PREDIMED study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2013 and looked at the effects of the Mediterranean diet on cardiovascular health and was re-analysed in 2018.
The Mediterranean diet recommends that the majority of your diet should be from plants, including plant-based protein sources; that you limit your consumption of processed red meat; and only have a small to moderate consumption of foods like dairy and eggs.
Simplified, this means you should mostly eat fruits, vegetables and wholegrains.
A good resource is the book The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner, which looks at the living habits of the world's longest-living people.
They have a lot of common diet and lifestyle habits such as not indulging too much in processed red meat or drinking alcohol in excess, they keep fit and active as they get older, and cultivate relationships with friends and family - there is a strong emphasis on community engagement and relationships.
Interestingly, recent meta-analyses have found that people who drink coffee live longer.
When we drink more than a few cups a day it can affect both our heart rate and our ability to sleep at night, as well as stress our adrenals, but it has not been associated with many adverse cardiovascular outcomes.
I'm more concerned about the things that are consumed with the typical Australian coffee - that extra pastry or even too much milk in the coffee.
People with heart conditions who contract the coronavirus have an increased risk of complications which is why it's important to keep up your routine medical care; taking medications as instructed and seeing your doctor about any concerns.
Other ways to protect your heart
For the majority of people, diet and lifestyle remain the cornerstones of the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Laying the groundwork for our heart health starts in our teens and twenties.
In middle age our level of cardiovascular fitness is prognostic, meaning the fitter we are the longer we are going to live. That remains true for whatever risk factors you may already have. Being fit should be part of everyone's program for preventing heart disease. It also aids in the prevention of cognitive decline.
It would be remiss of me not to talk about sleep as well, with studies this year showing an adequate amount of sleep of around 7-8 hours per night can help prevent coronary atherosclerosis.
Now is the time to get your flu shot if you haven't already, and abide by the guidelines by which we are now well acquainted: stay six feet apart from people, wash your hands regularly, cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing, and don't touch your face.
For information specific to COVID-19 visit the Heart Foundation's COVID-19 and Heart Health webpage.
- Today's answer is provided by Sydney cardiologist Dr Jason Kaplan, through HealthShare, a digital company dedicated to improving the health of regional Australians. Submit questions, and find more answers, at healthshare.com.au.