Are you making lifestyle choices that are good for your heart? Our cardiologists are — and they’d like to share some tips on how they help maintain their own heart-health with simple steps to ward off heart disease.
“I exercise every day.”
“Resistance training and aerobic exercise strengthens my heart and my body. Not only does it increase energy levels, but it reduces stress hormones, which can burden the heart. Intense exercise reduces blood pressure, inflammation, and ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL). I schedule it right into my planner to make sure I do something physical each day.”
“I keep a gratitude journal.”
“Being thankful can have a positive effect on your heart health. It can lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and minimize stress levels. People who practice gratitude also seem to exercise more and make better dietary choices. So, get out that journal and start expressing some appreciation for the good things in life.”
“I take the stairs.”
“Elevators are a convenience but if you’re able to take the stairs, do it. I take stairs any chance I get — and there are plenty of opportunities to make this heart-healthy choice. Pay attention when you have the choice to take the stairs or the elevator and notice how many stairs you climbed in one day. You’ll be surprised!"
“I have my meals delivered.”
“It’s great to have dinner waiting for me after a long workday. This way I don’t skip meals or grab junk food from the pantry. I also try to prep snacks and meals on Sundays with lots of protein — grass-fed meat and wild-caught fish with heart-healthy olive oil, nuts, and veggies. This way my family has healthy options for the whole week.”
“I make time for friends and family.”
“Social connections can keep hearts and minds healthy, while social isolation can lead to mental and physical decline. It’s important to spend time with friends and family who lift you up, make you smile and support you. Doctor’s orders are to get some social activities on your calendar to reduce stress, get you laughing, and help you appreciate the good things in life.”
“I eat a Mediterranean diet.”
“My favorite snack is a sliced avocado with olive oil, salt, and pepper. It’s delicious and filling. I also eat lots of berries, Greek yogurt, nuts, quinoa, beans, leafy greens — always drizzled with some extra virgin olive oil. The Mediterranean diet is balanced, full of nutrients, and good for your heart and body.”
“I make sure I get a good night’s sleep.”
“If you get seven or eight hours of sleep each night, you’ll keep your heart and organs humming, and you’ll wake feeling rested and ready to tackle your day. A good night’s sleep helps keep your blood pressure in check — one of the major risk factors for heart disease. And if you’re having trouble sleeping, a sleep study may help you determine why.”
“I avoid simple carbs, skip hot dogs, and limit alcohol.”
“To protect my heart and prevent disease, I avoid addictive carbs like pasta, rice, and bread. I avoid junk foods and soda, and I don’t eat processed meats like hot dogs or cold cuts. If I drink wine, it’s just a glass, maybe two. Excessive drinking can contribute to high blood pressure, heart failure and stroke.”
“I drink lots of water.”
“Staying hydrated improves the function of all internal organs — including our hearts. By increasing your water intake, you also improve your overall diet because you eat less sugar, salt, and total calories. Although today’s recommendations have increased from the eight-cups-a-day rule, my advice is to sip water throughout the day and you’ll meet your hydration goals.”
“I do yoga, meditate and I laugh.”
“I make a conscious choice to alleviate stress in my life by keeping negative thoughts out of my mind. Yoga, meditation, and lots of laughing all help me reduce stress — which is one of the risk factors for heart disease."
“I take a multivitamin.”
“Supplementing my diet with a multivitamin helps me get what I need on days when I fall short nutritionally. Daily doses of fiber, magnesium, fish oil, folic acid, and vitamins B and D can help lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and help with cardiovascular function. A multivitamin can be a good addition to any heart-healthy diet and lifestyle.”
“I eat dark chocolate.”
“Not only is dark chocolate delicious, but it can help lower your blood pressure. Just make sure it is minimally processed with about 75% cocoa to get the most flavanols, and pay attention to the serving size. Dark chocolate will certainly make you happy eating it — and it will relax your blood vessels and improve blood flow, too.”
“I monitor my weight”
Diet and weight play key roles in cardiovascular health. I weigh myself every morning at the same time each day, just to make sure the number isn’t creeping up. I know that if I can maintain my target weight, I am helping my heart by not overstressing it. Being overweight taxes your heart and can take years off your life.”
Be Proactive About Heart Health
Another way to be prepared is understanding your own heart health. Stay up to date with your annual visits to prevent and detect more serious issues and learn about the risk factors for heart disease.
Genetics play a role in your risk for heart disease, but it’s not the only factor. Learn the top 5 things raising your risk for developing heart disease.
Key numbers can help determine your risk for cardiovascular disease. Learn which are important and how to improve them as you continue your health journey.
Cardiac arrest can happen anywhere, and it is important to know that anyone can be ready to respond. Learn how to prepare, so you can protect your loved ones and others.
The first step to a healthier heart is understanding your risk for heart disease. Answer a few questions about your heart health and history to get your individual results.