Heart Health: Show Your Heart Some Love
When it comes to the health of your heart, you have more control than you may think. Anil Bhandari, MD, cardiologist and electrophysiologist at PIH Health Good Samaritan Hospital, provides these suggestions for decreasing your risk of coronary artery disease:
Modify Your Lifestyle
This is where you can make a big difference. For instance, losing even 10 percent of excess body weight may dramatically lower heart disease risk.
Adopt a heart-healthy diet. This means eating fewer foods that are high in fat, cholesterol and salt, and eating more fruit, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. Dr. Bhandari also suggests limiting portion size and drinking enough water.
Get regular, daily exercise. Try to get 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. Be sure to include both aerobic and weight-bearing exercise.
Avoid Harming Your Body
Tobacco use is one of the most significant risk factors for developing heart disease. The chemicals in tobacco may promote atherosclerosis, the narrowing of the arteries. Also, nicotine narrows the blood vessels and increases heart rate and blood pressure. Fortunately, the risk decreases dramatically within a year of quitting smoking.
Alcohol should be consumed in moderation. This means an average of one to two drinks per day for men, and one per day for women.
As part of your annual physical, your physician will monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol, BMI and other factors that can signal heart disease risk. High blood pressure and high cholesterol can damage your heart and blood vessels, but you may not be aware that you have these conditions unless you’re screened. You may also want to talk to your doctor about being screened for diabetes.
“Heart health takes a multi-pronged approach and is enhanced by working closely with your physician,” says Dr. Bhandari. “By taking an active role, you can positively affect your health.”