Lifestyle Advice for Keeping Your Heart Healthy

Healthy heart, Santa Ana, California, Jose Valdez, MD

Heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the United States. Approximately 610,000 Americans die annually from heart disease, and a shocking 735,000 Americans experience a heart attack each year. Sadly, many of those cases could’ve been avoided, or controlled by lifestyle tweaks.

Lifestyle changes you can make for your heart

Your lifestyle impacts your overall health in so many ways, including your heart. Something as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, choosing to eat a plant-based meal once or twice a week, opting for water rather than another soda, can actually improve your heart health. And one healthy choice can lead to another, and another, and so on.

Stop smoking

Unless you’ve been on another planet, you’re aware of the risk smoking poses to your heart, lungs, arteries, and more. Just stop. There are plenty of smoking cessation aids out there, so there really is no excuse not to try.

Eat a healthy diet

You don’t have to eat a steady diet of tofu and kale, unless you want to, but you should know what fuels your body affects your heart. Stop eating trans fats. They clog your arteries and raise your bad cholesterol. Replace those unhealthiest of fats with healthy olive oil, or avocado oil, for instance. Start reading labels and know what’s in your food.

Cut back on table salt and learn to compare labels. There’s hidden salt (and sugar!) in almost all processed foods. Begin limiting foods like packaged baked goods, deli meats, and those boxed dinners designed to make your life easier. The more a food is processed, the further it is from the source.

Eat a healthy amount of fresh fruits and vegetables at each and every meal. Snack on baby carrots and hummus instead of those artificially flavored, salt-laden chips. Seafood is always a good option for omega-3s, especially over red meat, which is high in saturated fat.

Cut out processed sugar as much as possible. Sugar adds visceral fat, a real threat to your heart health. If something sweet is a must, a piece of 70% cacao dark chocolate makes for a luscious treat.

Get active

Get off the couch and go outside. Sunshine and fresh air lift your mood. If you’re having a stressful day at work, take a lunchtime walk. Join a gym and start working out. Find a buddy who wants to train for a 5K with you. Start out small and see how your activity level develops over the next year.

Watch your weight

Refer to a BMI chart and target a healthy weight. If you’re already there, good for you! Now, do all that you can to maintain. If you have weight to lose, start eating heart healthy and working out and watch the pounds fall off.

Socialize

Catch up with friends over a cup of green tea. Get off social media and make a date to go out and enjoy a movie, concert, or night on the town with your besties. Friends don’t just warm your heart, they can improve your heart health.

Get help for depression and anxiety

Depression is so much more than just “feeling blue.” Anxiety can contribute to your depression as well. If you’ve been feeling low for more than a week or two, contact a mental health professional and schedule an appointment. Depression contributes to heart disease, and so much more. Please, get help.

Manage your stress

Stress is nearly impossible to avoid, but how you handle stress can make all the difference. As mentioned above, getting outside and communing with nature can help. So can meditation and yoga.

Know your numbers

You need to know how to control your blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol. These three numbers play a big role in your risk for heart disease. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Jose L. Valdez to find out your blood pressure numbers, your cholesterol reading, and your blood glucose, or A1c, numbers. Dr. Valdez can help you lower these, if need be.

Overcome your risk, a step at a time

Begin by making little changes today and setting small goals. Invest in a health tracker and join a walking challenge, try one new healthy recipe each week, or learn how to practice meditation. There are hundreds of small changes you can begin making today to protect your heart into the future.

Dr. Valdez realizes the importance heart health plays in your quality of life. It affects every aspect of your life. Together with Dr. Valdez, you can work to stop heart disease before you become a statistic. If you’re in the Santa Ana, California, area and you have reason to be concerned about your heart health, because of your lifestyle, weight, or family history, contact our office today.

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