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How You Can Take Charge of Your Heart Health

How You Can Take Charge of Your Heart Health

Every 33 seconds someone in the United States dies from heart disease, making it the leading cause of death in the US. 

Taking charge of your heart health can lower your risk of heart disease, increase your lifespan, and improve your quality of life. 

February is American Heart Month, and our medical director Michele Reed, DO, FAAFP, and her team of compassionate medical providers at MS Family Medicine Health Care PC in Rosedale and Garden City, New York, want to explain how you can take charge of your heart health.

Read on for some heart health tips you can put into practice right now.

Move your body

Your heart pumps harder when you exercise, making it stronger and more efficient at circulating blood throughout your body. Ideally, you should aim for 30 minutes of heart-pumping exercise (a brisk walk, bike ride, or low-impact aerobics), five days a week. 

But any movement is better than none when it comes to heart health. Start with a 10-minute walk around the block, increasing to 30 minutes as your fitness and endurance improve. Or, break up the 30 minutes into three 10-minute walks throughout your day.

Adding more activity to your day counts, too. You can take a quick stretch and stroll break every hour at work, use the stairs instead of the elevator, or exercise while watching TV.

Regular exercise also improves heart disease risk factors like hypertension and high cholesterol and helps with weight management.

Make sleep a priority

Many people consider it a badge of honor that they only need a few hours of sleep a night. But not getting enough sleep is bad for your heart. Poor sleep habits increase your blood pressure, put you at risk of weight gain, and make it harder for you to handle stress. 

Instead of trying to live off as little sleep as possible, try to sleep a little more. Your body needs at least seven hours of sleep a night to repair and rejuvenate.

You can improve your sleep by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, keeping your bedroom dark and cool, and putting away all electronics one hour before bed.

Modify your food choices

Poor nutrition is one of the modifiable habits that increases your risk of heart disease. Making a few changes to how you eat can have a significant positive effect on your heart health.

You can start by eating a fruit or vegetable at every meal, not seasoning your food with extra salt, and choosing leaner protein sources like chicken, fish, and beans.

Master your stress

Life is stressful, no doubt about it. But letting stress take over your life isn’t good for your heart or mind. Many people cope with stress by engaging in unhealthy behaviors like smoking or overeating. Not properly managing stress also increases your blood pressure and heart rate.

Getting more exercise and sleep can lower your stress level. We also recommend spending time with people who make you feel good and finding a hobby or activity that distracts you from the worries that trigger your stress.

Want to know more about how to take charge of your heart health? Check out the Fit Doc Podcast episode Keeping the Beat — Heart Health with Dr. Sonia Henry, where our own Dr. Reed gets all the answers you need from one of New York’s top cardiologists. 

At MS Family Medicine Health Care, we prioritize wellness and preventive care. If you want to take charge of your heart health but don't know where to start, book an appointment online or over the phone today. We want to help you get going and keep you going.

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