Five Tips for a Healthy Heart
It is well known that having a healthy heart supports a strong immune system and sets the body up for overall health. Ogechi Anyaoku, MD, an internal medicine physician with Adventist Medical Group, shares her top five tips for heart health.
1. Regular Exercise: Maintaining a regular exercise routine can help reduce your blood pressure and inflammation in your body. Ultimately, this makes you less likely to suffer a life-threatening cardiac event, such as a heart attack. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends engaging in a combination of aerobic exercise (such as walking, running or biking) and resistance training (such as weightlifting or body weight exercises for at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least five days a week and moderate resistance training at least two days a week.
2. Maintain a healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet helps to maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI) and weight. Excess weight puts unnecessary stress on the heart, which can lead to heart disease. A heart healthy diet consists of:
- Whole grains
- Lean proteins
- Healthy fats
Omega 3 fatty acids (healthy fats) are found Omega 3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation and your risk of heart disease. They’re found in in plant and nut oils such as
- Cold-water fish such as salmon
3. Get enough sleep: Sleep plays an important role in helping your body heal and repair. This includes your blood vessels! Inadequate sleep can lead to elevated blood pressure and has been linked to elevated cholesterol levels. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends at least seven to nine hours of sleep for adults age 18-65.
4. Monitor your salt intake: Excessive salt intake can cause your body to retain excess fluid, which causes your heart to work harder to pump blood out to your body. Excess salt can lead to high blood pressure and increase your risk of developing heart failure. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and AHA recommend the general population to consume around 1,500-2,000mg of sodium daily, which is around ¾ teaspoon to 1 teaspoon a day.
5. Manage stress: Chronic stress can increase your levels of stress hormones and lead to a state of chronic inflammation. Over time this can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure and cause other issues such as poor sleep and weight gain. You can help manage your stress by developing:
- A regular exercise routine
- Spending time with family and friends
- Incorporating mindfulness exercises
It’s important to have a primary care doctor that you see regularly. They can help detect changes in your heart health and address them early on with a cardiologist if necessary.
Learn more about your risk for heart disease by taking Adventist HealthCare’s free online heart risk assessment at AdventistHealthCare.com/LYH. Don’t forget to share and discuss your results with your doctor!