The key to a healthy heart is to play your cards right but depending on the hand you're dealt, you may have to alter your strategy.
Sherri Dmyterko: Dave Scharf is a poker expert. He has been playing semi-professional black jack and poker for years. He seen first hand some of the effects that gaming can have on a person's health and has made a commitment to preserving his own heart health. With a high stake event like the 2008 World Poker Tour Canada under way. Now it's the time for people both in and outside the casino to think about their heart. Dave Scharf: It is over the course of a single hand the poker physiology goes up and down and your heart rate goes up and down, your breathing goes up and down and the same can be said of any style of gaming. So over a very short measure of time you experience a real roller coaster of physical side effects. I take good care myself, try and eat right, try and manage my cholesterol, try and keep sure that my blood pressure stays down, because I tell you what your blood pressure is going to go up over the course of a 60-hour poker tournament, it better start low. Sherri Dmyterko: The reality is that gaming is a sedentary activity and this popular past time can have a number of short term and longer term physiological side effects, including increased adrenaline, high blood pressure, digestive problems, stress and high cholesterol, all of which can have very negative effects on heart health. Doctor Robert Weinberg is a family physician at the Etobicoke Medical Center. Dr Robert Weinberg: Some people can lower the risk of having a heart attack or a stroke with diet and exercise alone. But for others medication becomes an important part of treatment and some people will find themselves on many pills. Simplifying the treatment regimen by using combination therapies can reduce the number of pills the person has to take. Caduet is one such medication which can be used to treat high blood pressure and high cholesterol in a single pill and improves the odds of maintaining a healthy heart. Dave Scharf: Winning a gaming is fun, winning a big poker tournament is a giant thrill. None of that will matter if you don't enjoy good health in your life, whether you are young or in your senior years, take good care of yourself, take care of your blood pressure, take care of your cholesterol. In the end, the pay off of a healthy heart is far more substantial than any big win at the poker table. Sherri Dmyterko: When the stakes are this high make sure the odds are in your favor. Talk to your doctor today about risk factors for heart disease and the importance of diet, exercise and medication to control high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Sherri Dmyterko reporting.