Healthy Habits to Support Your Heart Health

As the leading cause of heart disease among both men and women, one might think that daily prevention practices would be more commonplace. However, it sometimes seems like quite the opposite has happened — heart disease is so common that it’s become “normal” in a sense, and that’s quite the skewed perspective. 

The standard medical advice for preventing heart disease really isn’t all that complex. You can keep your heart healthy by taking small, simple steps every day. Dr. Erick Calderon, expert cardiologist at Lakewood Cardiovascular Consultants in Sarasota County, Florida, shares four ways to prevent heart disease and keep your whole body healthy. 

1. Eat a heart-healthy diet

Eating a nutritious diet is probably the number-one step you can take to prevent heart disease. Many forms of heart disease, including peripheral artery disease (PAD), coronary artery disease (CAD), atherosclerosis, and high blood pressure, have all been linked to unhealthy eating patterns that include too much processed food — particularly processed foods high in sodium, sugar, and trans fats. 

A heart-healthy diet includes lots of vegetables (starchy, non-starchy, and leafy); a variety of fruits, especially berries and others with high antioxidant content; whole grains, such as wheat, rye, and quinoa; protein from poultry and fish; and herbs and spices. It’s important to limit added sugars, trans fats, sodium, and saturated fat from processed foods (saturated fats from minimally processed foods are usually okay).

2. Get plenty of exercise

You’ve probably heard the deal that you need 150 to 300 minutes (two and a half to five hours) of moderate exercise each week. This recommendation is based on decades of science. You can choose to perform cardiovascular exercise, such as walking, jogging, dancing, or swimming, but newer research tells us that resistance training is just as important for your overall health as cardiovascular training. 

Resistance training includes weightlifting, bodyweight exercises, resistance band exercises, and suspension training. Experiment with workout styles until you find a method you love. You’ll find it far easier to stick to an exercise plan when you actually enjoy the workouts. 

3. Quit smoking and moderate alcohol consumption

The data is clear: Tobacco use and excessive alcohol intake increase your risk of developing heart disease. Using both in tandem increases your risk even more. Eliminating tobacco from your lifestyle and reducing your consumption of alcohol can have prominent positive effects on your heart health, not to mention the health of many other organs. 

And no, red wine isn’t as healthy as you think. 

4. Get your annual check-up

If you’re doing all of the above things to stay healthy, there’s no reason to see your doctor for your annual wellness check-up, right? Actually, that’s a rather harmful narrative. It may seem silly to make an appointment with your doctor when you feel fine, but you should still get an annual exam. 

Your annual check-up is more than a physical exam. It’s a time for your doctor to check for early signs of chronic disease, including heart disease, and provide healthy lifestyle recommendations to make positive changes. If your provider does catch any signs of disease, you’ll receive early treatment recommendations that could save your life.

At an annual check-up, you can ask your doctor questions about heart health — am I doing okay? Is there anything I need to change? — and leave feeling more confident in your health than when you walked in. 

To take charge of your heart health, visit Dr. Calderon at Lakewood Cardiovascular Consultants in Sarasota County, Florida. Call our heart health clinic at 941-404-7958, send a message to the team, or request an appointment online.

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