Author: Hassan S. Makki, D.O., FACC
Did you know that heart disease is the number-one killer in the U.S. – for both men and women? It’s a wonder that better heart health isn’t at the forefront of more Americans’ minds. Whether my patients want to improve their heart health for themselves or for their children, I always take the time to go over the significance of these five lifestyle choices…
#1 Exercise for at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week.
The heart is a muscle. And, like your arms and legs, the heart isn’t going to get strong without exercise. Basic cardiovascular exercise doesn’t have to be complicated; it doesn’t have to be painful; it doesn’t require special equipment. Simply walking or jogging for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, can significantly improve heart health.
#2 Stop smoking.
Smoking increases the risk for coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times. You don’t need a pack-a-day habit to see the effects either. Studies show that even smoking just five cigarettes a day (or fewer) can cause early signs of cardiovascular disease.
#3 Know what to eat… and what not to eat.
Eating “heart healthy” doesn’t have to mean fibrous vegetables and bland breakfast cereals. A lot of my patients have latched onto the idea of “eating heart healthy” the tasty way, cooking up delicious meals that lower “bad” cholesterol, boost “good” cholesterol, and reduce risk for heart disease. Salmon, almonds, red wine, spinach, oranges, bell peppers, and dark chocolate… the list of appetizing heart healthy foods is long!
#4 Get rid of stress.
The body deals with stress in very physical ways: high blood pressure, migraine headache, upset stomach… The heart is no exception. Learn how to manage your stress, and improve your heart health for years to come.
#5 Lower blood pressure.
Patients should aim for blood pressure levels below 120/80 mmHg, unless directed otherwise by their physician. The good news is that by losing weight and following the other four tips on this page, hypertension often resolves itself.
To learn more about the health of your heart, schedule a cardiac consultation appointment at Phoenix Heart Center by calling 602-234-0004. Locations in Phoenix, East Mesa, and Tempe, AZ.
Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.