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Style: Folsom | El Dorado Hills

The 10 Spot: Heart Healthy Tips

Jan 31, 2019 02:40PM

Contrary to popular belief, hearts are not made to be broken. They’re made to keep us alive! As heart-owners, it’s our job to treat them well and make sure they stay in tip-top shape. In honor of American Heart Month, we sourced some expert advice on how to keep your heart unbroken, health-wise.

Get up, stand up. “Even if you have a desk job, try to not be too sedentary, [which] is dangerous to your health, as it increases your risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, falls, and feelings of depression and anxiety.”—Tin Nguyen, MD, Cardiologist, Mercy Medical Group

Raise a glass. “Drink plenty of water. During [wintertime] it’s often harder to drink the volume of water that we do during the summer months. However, by staying hydrated, we take some of the unnecessary strain off the heart by ensuring blood volume is sufficient to carry oxygen to our muscles. Specifically, the heart will be able to pump more blood with every contraction, thus lowering our heart rate at rest.”—Mark Cavallaro, Personal Training Director, Roseville Health & Wellness Center

Weigh your options. “Maintain a healthy weight. While many people want to lose weight for appearances' sake, there are many health benefits as well. Not only will you feel increased energy, but you'll reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and some forms of cancer. It will also help control blood sugar, relieve back and joint tension, and optimize your immune system.”—Scott A. Vasconcellos, MD, Cardiologist, Marshall Medical Center

Keep it positive. “Let’s be honest, we all talk to ourselves! Self-talk can be positive (‘I can do this’ or ‘Everything will be OK’) or negative (‘I'll never get better’ or ‘I'm so stupid’). Considering stress may affect behaviors and factors that increase heart disease risk—high blood pressure and cholesterol, smoking, drinking alcohol, physical inactivity, and overeating—practicing positive self-talk is particularly important.”—American Heart Association

Move more. “Exercise is good for the heart in a number of ways. It reduces the chance of major cardiac events (heart attack and sudden cardiac death); lowers blood pressure and cholesterol; improves insomnia, depression, and diabetes control; reduces osteoporosis and risk of fractures; and helps in weight loss and maintaining a healthier weight.”—Stanley Henjum, MD, Cardiologist, Marshall Medical Center

Dog (or cat) is your copilot. “Having a pet dog or cat can help lower the spikes in blood pressure when stressed and help promote a more active lifestyle. (Fido won’t let you skip out on your daily walks!)”—Alyssa Rose, CTRS, Recreation Therapist, Sutter Rehabilitation Institute

Breathe easy. “If you consistently snore or are a mouth breather, get tested for sleep apnea. Many people don't realize it, but snoring and trouble breathing in sleep directly affect the heart, leading to high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation); in some situations, it can trigger a massive heart attack or stroke.”—Amer Khan, MD, Medical Director of Clinical Quality for Sutter Independent Physicians, Founder of Sehatu Sleep Roseville

Let’s get physical. “Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate activity every day. You can even combine several activities to achieve that 30 minutes. For instance, park further from the store so you increase the number of steps or take the stairs instead of the elevator. Little changes daily have positive results over time.”—Mark Cavallaro, Personal Training Director, Roseville Health & Wellness Center

Get fresh. “A heart-healthy diet consists of fresh vegetables, lean proteins, and ‘good fats’ (such as olive oil and avocados). Processed foods should be avoided.”—Rishi Menon, MD, Cardiologist, Sutter Independent Physicians and Roseville Cardiology

Take it from Thoreau. “Exercise 30 minutes daily, or every other day. Perform an activity that you enjoy: bicycling, swimming, jogging, treadmill, elliptical, or just plain walking. As Henry David Thoreau said, ‘An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.’”—George Fehrenbacher, MD, Medical Director, Cardiac Cath Lab at Sutter Roseville Medical Center

Do your homework. “Learn about your family’s health history. Your risks are higher if a family member has had heart problems. If your first-degree relative has been diagnosed with heart disease before 55 years of age (men) or 65 years of age (women), you are at higher risk for having a heart attack. Remember that even if a family member has had a heart condition, there are things you can do to be proactive about your health, including not smoking and living a healthy lifestyle with a good diet and exercise.”—Dr. Tin Nguyen MD, Cardiologist, Mercy Medical Group

Protect your heart. “Get your omegas. Consider taking a high-grade (over 1,000 mg of EPA/DHA)omega 3 supplement on a daily basis. Omegas 3s have been shown to help protect against heart disease.”—Mark Cavallaro, Personal Training Director, Roseville Health & Wellness Center

Eat the rainbow. “A fun and tasty way to make sure your family is eating a good variety of fruits and vegetables is to eat as many different colors as you can each day. Why? The best way to get all of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients you need is to eat a variety of colorful fruits and veggies. Add color to your plate each day with the five main color groups (red/pink, yellow/orange, green, blue/purple & white).”—American Heart Association

Up with leisure, down with stress. “Participating in meaningful leisure activities (walks, social gatherings, creative outlets) regularly helps to decrease overall stress levels.”—Alyssa Rose, CTRS, Recreation Therapist, Sutter Rehabilitation Institute

Don’t be salty. “Lower your salt intake. Blood pressure levels increase due to high sodium levels in your diet, so reducing the amount of salt you eat will lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. And remember, just because you aren't adding salt to your food with a salt shaker, many foods are still high in sodium, so be sure to read the label. Foods like frozen shrimp, many soups and broths, instant pudding, cottage cheese, vegetable juice, salad dressings, pizza, sandwiches, canned vegetables, tortillas, and bread are especially high in sodium.”—Katharina Truelove, MD, Family Medicine at Marshall Medical Center

Consider following a plant-based diet. “A plant-based diet has been linked to lower rates of heart disease. Eat more fruits and vegetables in their whole and unprocessed form. Avoid animal fats and choose whole grains, beans, and lentils for healthy and filling meals. It’s important to limit certain fats in your diet such as saturated fats and avoid trans fats altogether. You should include healthy fats in your diet, such as avocado, nuts, olives, and olive oil. Many meals you enjoy can be changed into a plant-based meal, such as black bean burgers and vegetable kebabs. Also, limit your oil and salt intake; instead, use lemon juice, herbs, and spices to flavor food.”—Marjon Fariba, MD, Cardiologist, Kaiser Permanente Roseville

By Sharon Penny

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