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Health news and blog

    6 Ways to Improve Your Heart Health

    6 Ways to Improve Your Heart Health



    Do you know your cholesterol levels? How about your blood pressure? Are you diabetic? It’s the combination of risk factors that puts you at greater risk for having a heart attack or stroke. Your doctor, along with
a simple blood test, can help calculate the risk of you having a heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years. Once you know your risk, you and your doctor can discuss ways to help minimize that risk over time. It will help guide individualized therapy.


When elderly people (healthy 
or not) are surveyed, they consistently regret that they didn’t take better care of themselves when they were younger. If you are healthy enough to exercise, get moving! Thirty minutes of moderate physical activity every day can improve your heart health. If you have multiple medical problems, talk with your doctor about what exercise is right for you. If you are young and without any major medical problems, you should engage in vigorous physical activity at least two hours a week or more, in addition to 30 minutes of daily moderate activity. Unless you’re
a personal trainer or professional athlete, being “on the go” at your job doesn’t count for exercise—only dedicated time outside of work does. No matter what your age is, or medical problems are, exercise helps.


    If you smoke, STOP! Your doctor can help you quit. If you are drinking more than one to two alcoholic beverages a day, or binge drinking on the weekends when out with friends, STOP! If you are eating a lot of calories right before bed, staying up late watching TV, not taking vacation days from work when appropriate, STOP! Most of us can identify what habits we have that we know aren’t good for us. You can’t change your family history of heart disease, or even your cholesterol without medications for that matter, but you can stop smoking, drinking to excess, and over-eating.


    Whether exercising or not, it’s time to start listening to what your heart is trying to tell you. If you are getting chest pain or pressure that continues, while resting, for more than 15-20 min, call 9-1-1
or have someone drive you to an emergency room. This can be a sign
of a heart attack. If you are getting intermittent chest pain or pressure only with exertion, or shortness of breath with minimal amounts of activity, make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible. Simple and safe testing can be done to ensure your heart is healthy enough for exercise.


    New diets that are “all the craze” seem to come out every couple years, and most of them fade away. That’s because they just don’t work long-term, or might even be bad for you. One of the few diets that has actual cardiovascular benefits and has been extensively researched in rigorous and academic fashion, is the Mediterranean diet. Less a diet and more a change in the way you eat and cook, it emphasizes eating fruits and vegetables, produce, whole grains, and healthy fats. Look up “Mediterranean diet” online
for more information. Also, there are no over-the-counter dietary supplements or essential oils on the market today that have ever been shown to have any benefits for the heart, so save your money. Being at a healthy weight is hard work and require discipline and a plan. Talk to your doctor about what’s right for you.


    When a car check-engine light goes on, most of us take it to a mechanic for regular maintenance. Yet when it comes to our bodies, we sometimes ignore potentially life- threatening signs for months, or we avoid getting regular checkups. Your local cardiologist or primary care doctor can appropriately screen for cardiovascular disease and gauge your risk. You can avoid being one of those patients, lying in a hospital bed, wishing they had done more. Take control of your heart health today!