10 Tips for Maintaining Heart Health

Your heart is the engine powering your body, so to say a healthy heart is important is a huge understatement. The good news is there are some simple, easy steps you can take each day to help your heart stay strong and healthy. 

At Columbia Internal Medicine, located in Castleton, New York, Dr. Padma and her staff are dedicated to helping you reach and maintain optimal health. Making sure that you’re considering the following 10 lifestyle factors each day will help you become healthier overall, as well as improve your heart health. These tips will help keep your heart healthy:

1. No smoking, ever

If you don’t smoke now, don’t start, and if you do smoke, quit. We can offer help if you need it. 

Smokers are at greater risk of developing heart disease than non-smokers. Additionally, smoking causes a higher mortality rate for people who develop cardiovascular disease compared to people who don’t. 

2. Develop an exercise plan

There are many benefits to regular exercise including better joint health, improved mental health, and you guessed it: better heart health. You don’t have to train for a marathon to reap all those benefits, either. A simple, 30-60 minute brisk walk each day contributes enormously to improved health, including lower blood pressure. 

3. Keep an eye on your cholesterol

Cholesterol is a naturally-occurring fatty substance in your body. When you have too much cholesterol, it can coat the inside of your arteries and make your blood vessels narrow. Narrowed blood vessels can contribute to a heart attack. 

Monitor your cholesterol through regular visits with Dr. Padma. Ideally, your cholesterol should be lower than 240 consistently. If it’s higher several months in a row, you may need medication to help lower it. 

4. Get enough sleep

Lack of sleep is annoying, but worse, it can damage your health, including your heart health. Getting enough quality sleep is an important factor in good heart health. Getting a minimum of seven hours of sleep each night is recommended. 

Research suggests that lack of sleep could be linked to calcium buildup in the arteries. Calcium buildup, like too much cholesterol, can cause your arteries to become narrower and may contribute to a heart attack. Sleeping fewer than six hours each night is associated with the most risk of artery damage. 

5. If you have diabetes, manage it carefully

If you have diabetes, your risk of cardiovascular disease is much higher than that of people who don’t have it. Uncontrolled blood sugar can damage and weaken your blood vessels. 

Monitor your blood sugar frequently, along with your blood pressure. Diet and exercise may be enough to lower your blood sugar, but you may need medication to keep everything under control. 

6. Monitor your blood pressure

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is directly associated with stroke and heart attack. If you have normal blood pressure, having it checked once per year during your primary care physical is fine. But if you have high blood pressure, you should check it much more often. 

Age increases your risk of high blood pressure. Obesity, poor dietary choices, a sedentary lifestyle, and stress are all also likely to lead to high blood pressure. If you’ve made good lifestyle changes and your blood pressure is still high, Dr. Padma may suggest medication to help lower it. 

7. Eat a nutritious, healthy diet

Aim to consume a balanced diet of lean protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. Make sure your indulgences, like cake or chips, are the exception instead of a normal part of your diet. 

8. Reach and maintain a healthy weight

Excess weight increases your risk of heart disease. Beginning a regular exercise routine and eating a healthy diet are two of the most important steps to take if you want to lose weight. Our staff is happy to help you develop a weight loss plan that works for your life. 

9. Limit alcohol consumption 

Too much alcohol can increase your blood pressure and harm your heart. It’s associated with a condition called cardiomyopathy. If you have some degree of heart failure already, alcohol is especially dangerous. 

10. Mental health matters

Two less-discussed risks of heart disease are stress and depression. Consider how you can lower your daily stress levels, and if you have depression be sure to talk about it with Dr. Padma so that she can consider how it may be impacting your heart health. 

If you’d like to learn more about how to protect your heart health, or if you have questions about your specific situation, book an appointment at Columbia Internal Medicine. You can request an appointment online, or you can call us at 518-223-9630 and we’ll be happy to get you on the schedule.

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