One out of every five deaths in the United States is due to heart disease, making it the No. 1 cause of death in this country. Every year, almost 700,000 people die from heart disease.
Women and men with healthy hearts are less likely to die of heart disease than the average American. When your heart is healthy, you probably also have healthy habits that protect you from other diseases and medical conditions.
Our cardiology team at Advanced Medical Care in Brooklyn and Queens, New York, wants you to strengthen your heart so you don’t become another statistic. How do you keep your heart healthy? Learn from the habits of those who are at lower risk for heart disease.
Although you may feel overwhelmed by the number of dietary approaches on the internet that promise to extend your life and make you feel younger, most of them share a few common principles. You could choose keto, paleo, or vegan, but the most important part of your diet is selecting fresh, whole foods that nourish your cells, including those in your heart.
A Mediterranean-based diet is a good start. This time-tested approach to mealtime places an emphasis on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy proteins and fats. An advantage to the Mediterranean diet is that you probably already have cookbooks filled with recipes that utilize ingredients such as:
When you fill up on nutritious, whole foods, you’re not as likely to be tempted by foods that aren’t nourishing or that cause inflammation, such as sugars and trans fats. A healthy diet helps you control cholesterol and blood sugar — two factors that are important for heart health.
If you’ve avoided constructing a regular exercise regimen because you hate running or don’t want to join a gym, you’re in luck. Studies demonstrate that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is as good or better for your heart than continuous training.
Running for long distances or doing other cardiovascular exercise for long periods of time raises the level of cortisol in your body, which puts stress on your heart. In contrast, HIIT raises your heart rate for brief periods only, giving your heart a good workout without prolonged stress.
With HIIT, you perform an aerobic exercise such as running or rebounding at top speed or strength for only about one minute at a time. Then you rest for 2-3 minutes. You only have to repeat the interval sequence four times to reap heart-healthy benefits.
Before starting any exercise program, including HIIT, be sure to check with your cardiologist. We may recommend modifications based on your current fitness level.
A HIIT workout targets your most important muscle: your heart. But don’t neglect your other muscles. Resistance training that forces your muscles to contract and work is good for your heart muscle, too.
Even just one session of resistance training per week can improve your cardiovascular health. Lifting weights or using resistance bands also increases blood flow to your muscles and throughout your body, which gives your heart (and all other organs) a needed boost.
If you’re overweight, you may have tried time and again to shed unwanted pounds. More likely than not, they came back. Even though you know you’ll look better, feel better, and have a healthier heart if you lose excess weight, it’s not easy to do alone.
You’re likely to notice weight loss when you adopt good exercise habits and transform your diet. Resistance training and HIIT workouts help your body burn fat and build muscle. Muscle increases your metabolism so it’s easier to burn fat.
If you need extra help, though, let us know. Medically supervised weight loss allows you to let go of extra weight without the risk of muscle wasting. You also get the support you need to make those changes permanent.
If you haven’t tried to quit smoking yet, now’s the time to do it. If you’ve struggled to quit and you need help, let us know so we can refer you to a cessation program. Smoking damages your blood vessels and your heart, increasing your risk for cardiovascular disease.
Make an effort to avoid secondhand smoke, too. Inhaling smoke, whether directly or indirectly, is not a healthy heart habit.
Is your heart as healthy as it should be? For a cardiology evaluation and personalized recommendations, make an appointment at Advanced Medical Care today. You can call the office convenient to you or book online anytime.