Your heart health depends on everything from your age to family history to what you eat. Managing these varied risk factors may seem overwhelming, but it’s actually much easier than you think.
“WHEN IT COMES to family history, you can’t disown your genes,” says George Y. Paik, M.D., FACC, general and interventional cardiologist at Summit Healthcare. “You should meet with a healthcare provider and work with his or her recommendations concerning medications, but many other heart health risk factors can be treated with weight management.”
Proper weight management can help you lower risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol levels while keeping chronic conditions such as diabetes in check.
Tried and True
The keys to managing your weight can be found in—you guessed it—physical activity and eating habits. While new recommendations concerning specific foods and diets seem to arise every few years, there are some constants you can follow to improve your heart health.
“It’s important to limit your sodium intake and not eat excessively,” Dr. Paik says. “And of course, if you have diabetes, stay away from simple carbs and sugars.”
Adults should limit their daily sodium consumption to 2,300 milligrams or less. You can limit your intake by using food labels to keep track of the sodium in your food. Eating fewer processed foods and restaurant meals can also help you avoid excess sodium.
When it comes to physical activity, more is more.
“Little things, such as walking up flights of stairs or parking far away from the store, can be helpful,” Dr. Paik says. “Many people don’t get enough exercise, so working it into your daily routine whenever and wherever you can is important.”
Try working toward a goal of two-and-a-half hours of moderate physical activity every week. Moderate activity should raise your heart rate and cause you to breathe more heavily than normal. Splitting up this physical activity into four or more sessions a week is ideal, but it’s OK to do longer or shorter workouts to accommodate your schedule.
Need to check in on your heart health? Schedule an appointment with a cardiologist.