Lifestyle tips for a healthy heart

January 27, 2023 | by Maryl Pinotti, DO

The blueprint for a heart-healthy lifestyle is relatively simple laid out on paper. You’ve probably heard this before: Eat healthier, move more, stop smoking, etc.

If you’re in the habit of couch surfing, frequent fast-food visits or smoking, this is much easier said than done. I understand how hard it is to change a well-worn routine.

The reason you should try, though, is to avoid potential health problems as you age. Having a heart attack is scary. Needing heart surgery could be even scarier (not just for you, but for your loved ones, too).

Over time, unhealthy habits can result in heart disease.

That doesn’t make it easier to pursue and maintain a “heart-healthy lifestyle,” especially when you look at it as a massive life adjustment.

Try focusing on the following tips one at a time. Breaking it down will make the changes easier.

As you conquer each one, you’ll likely find that success will breed success. Eating healthier will give you more energy, which will infuse your workout routine. Working out will reduce your stress, which will reduce your reliance on evening cocktails or cigarettes to unwind … you get the picture!

Start here:

  • Eat healthy. This is easy to say but can get confusing when you try to figure out how to do it. Read about simple heart-healthy diet changes you can make. Also, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offers extensive tips and meal suggestions. If you need more guidance, talk to your physician about meeting with a dietitian who can help you lay out a specific plan.
  • Stop smoking. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do, not just for your heart, but your entire body. It’s difficult, but you can do it. If you need help quitting, talk to your physician.
  • Moderate alcohol. Alcohol is sneaky. It’s so socially acceptable that people look at you funny if you don’t drink. But it’s also important to keep it in check for your heart (and overall health). Again, if you need help cutting back or stopping alcohol use, talk to your physician.
  • Check your blood pressure and cholesterol. High blood pressure and high cholesterol can be killers. But they’re conditions you don’t know you have unless you check, as they have no obvious symptoms. Have your doctor check your blood pressure and cholesterol at your annual physical.
  • Get active. This one can be fun when you choose an activity you really enjoy. Talk to your physician about your plan before you begin. The American Heart Association recommends adults do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity five days per week as well as strength workouts (such as bodyweight or weights) twice a week.
  • Figure out how to handle stress in a healthy way. Everyone gets stressed from time to time. When it happens a lot, it can affect your physical health and strain your heart. Luckily there are a lot of ways to reduce stress. Make it a point to find a tactic that works for you.

Dr. Maryl Pinotti is an internal medicine physician with Edward-Elmhurst Medical Group. View Dr. Pinotti’s profile and schedule an appointment online.

Learn your risk for heart disease with HeartAware, our free online assessment.

We were there for that and we’re here for everything else. At Edward-Elmhurst Medical Group, with providers in 30 specialties from pediatrics to orthopedics to internal medicine, we believe that better relationships lead to better care. Here, it’s personal. Because we take the time to get to know you. Find the perfect doctor.

On Feb. 8, join us for a webinar, "Heart Sense - Strategies for Reducing your Heart Disease Risk." Learn more and register now.

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