I’ve witnessed my grandfather frequent a cardiologist for much of my life — along with many other relatives repeating the process over the years. Each had been diagnosed with a unique heart-related condition — some infringing on the concept life, and others a little less savage in comparison. I’d noticed diet-plans pepper their refrigerators, and pills and prescriptions unravel themselves on their nightstands.
Caution was exercised everywhere. Except for one area. I don’t recall anyone mentioning anything about the dos and don’ts of skincare to any of my relatives. If employing an electric or battery-powered Gua Sha into your regimen can interfere with the signals of your pacemaker (at least what my sleuthing suggests), and a coveted anti-ageing ingredient can render your skin vulnerable to bruising and wounding, this isn’t information you can just disregard. While I understand that this bunch had little to no inclination toward skincare, they should have been told everything regardless.
This lack of awareness stems from the assumption that a condition like this only influences factors like your diet and lifestyle — not your approach to beauty. That belief is invalid — and potentially risky. I have enlisted the expertise of two professionals in the field. Dr. Praneeth Polamuri, MD, DM, Consultant Interventional Cardiologist and Dr. Manjot Marwah, Award-Winning Celebrity Dermatologist, Hair Transplant Surgeon, & Consultant & Director at Dr. Manjot’s Clinic — both these professionals have come together to share their inputs with me on the subject. Ahead — everything you need to know about navigating skincare with a heart-related condition, and building a safe and effective routine for heart patients.
Dr. Praneeth explains, “Pacemakers and ICDs are electronic devices placed for patients with heart diseases. They are used for selected patients, and serve an important purpose of saving a life by preventing rhythm-related abnormalities. Any electronic device which can interfere with the functioning of these devices should be avoided. This includes phones, electric shavers and other skin care tools. Although the risk of interference is uncommon, thanks to the advances in the technology of pacemakers, it is still suggested to avoid using electronic devices close to the pacemakers.
Dr. Manjot talks about how certain skin-tightening hand-devices with microcurrents as well as devices for electrolysis for hair-removal can alter the pacemaker. Even certain in-clinic procedures like electrocautery or magnetic therapy for fat-loss in the gym are strictly contraindicated in patients with pacemakers.
I’d read about patients susceptibility to developing bruises and marks on the skin owing to their condition. Dr. Praneeth just confirmed the validity of the claim, “If done by professionals, it should not cause any harm to the patients; but because a majority of patients are on blood-thinners, tools like Gua Sha can lead to bruising and bleeding in some cases.” This principle extends to devices like rollers as well — not just Gua Sha.
Dr. Manjot reiterates, “Gua Sha and, more notoriously, cupping, can cause severe bruising in patients on aspirin and warfarin. But they do not hamper the working of the pacemaker.”
“As these tools have no systemic effects, there should not be any interference with the medication that the patient is taking,” says Dr. Praneeth. Dr. Manjot agrees, “These tools do not interfere with medication; but if you’re on ecospirin and blood-thinners, using a harsh skin-care device, a strong scrub, or a peel-off mask can be devastating. Simple procedures like waxing and threading can also leave bruises behind,” she says.
While ingredients like Vitamin K are coveted for their ability to diminish the development of signs of ageing, heal wounds, and defend the skin against free-radical damage, these benefits don’t translate in all cases. According to Dr Praneeth, “Vitamin K interferes with functioning of specific blood-thinners like Warfarin n (Vitamin K dependent anticoagulants) which can promote thrombosis and its adverse sequelae.”
He also discourages the application of other ingredients, “Many of the topical drugs applied on the skin can have significant systemic absorption. Some that need to be avoided include steroids and NSAIDs. Steroids and NSAIDs can precipitate heart-failure decompensation.” Do check your labels before buying a new product, and run the same by a professional as well.
According to Dr. Manjot, Vitamin K-infused under-eye creams, for instance, don’t pose a threat to patients. This is because its absorption is not significant enough to hamper the working of blood-thinners. But she does testify to the dangers of ingesting higher amounts of Vitamin K.
Dr. Praneeth’s validates the safety of collagen and Hyaluronic Acid. Although, he did mention that these supplements might contain other drugs — like the previously-mentioned steroids or NSAIDs — which can cause serious adverse events in patients with heart-related diseases.
Dr. Manjot, though, isn’t convinced of the safety of collagen, “Collagen is derived from animals, and can have additional fats and proteins. This can hamper blood-lipid levels. Because these ingredients are not studied sufficiently, they are best avoided.”
These are some things you need to keep in mind for when you’re assembling a skincare routine that’ll work in sync with your heart-related condition. Remember to keep updating your dermatologist and cardiologist on any changes you’re planning on making in your routine.
Featured Image: Unsplash