Take 6 Small Steps for Your Heart Health

Million Hearts®, a national initiative co-led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recently launched the “Heart-Healthy Steps” campaign, which encourages people to take control of their heart health with small steps. Particularly geared to those adults 55 and older, these “small steps” can make a huge difference when it comes to preventing heart disease, cardiac arrest and strokes.

Heart-Healthy Steps

Manage Your Risk Factors

One of the first things our physicians do when consulting with a new patient is assess their risk factors for heart disease, which can include family history, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, age, ethnicity and gender. While some of these factors cannot be managed, many of them can. For example, if you have a family history of high blood pressure, it’s important to have it measured at least once a year by a healthcare professional (more on them below!). If you do find that you have high blood pressure, there are health habits, like eating a balanced diet and getting more exercise, that can help you to lower your BP and protect your heart. The same can be said for high cholesterol and high blood sugar, in most cases. Learn more about managing your risks.

Work with Healthcare Professionals

Building a healthcare team you can trust is extremely important, especially as you age. Whether you currently see a general practitioner or work with specialists, like a cardiologist, do not be afraid to advocate for yourself and ask for what you need to feel secure. Be sure to ask about your risk for heart attack and stroke as well as medicines you might need to maintain a healthy heart. If you are wanting to add a cardiologist to your healthcare team, contact our office today.

Eat Healthy

If you’re a patient of ours, you know how important it is to fuel your body (and your heart) with nutrient-dense foods. When it comes to eating smart for your heart, we encourage balance, basics and making small changes that will help you create healthy eating habits. Nutrition is not one-size-fits-all, but working with a doctor or licensed dietitian can help you find the diet that’s right for you. Overall, a heart-healthy diet consists of lean protein, healthy fats, veggies, whole grains and fruits. In this blog, we share how to eat smart for your heart as well as a list of items to include in your next grocery haul.

Get Active

Between waking up, getting kids ready and to school, work, extracurricular activities and other obligations, it can seem impossible to add “exercise” to that never-ending list. What if we told you that all you needed was 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week? That may seem like a lot, but this type of “exercise” is something that can be accomplished while making tiny changes to how you accomplish everyday activities, like going to the grocery store rather than ordering pick-up or delivery, taking the stairs rather than the elevator at work, pacing around your office while taking phone calls rather than sitting at your desk … the list goes on and on. Before you know it, 150 minutes will feel like a breeze and you’ll be ready to take on more activity throughout your week. And, when that time comes, we have a fantastic 10-minute desk exercise routine that’s geared toward heart health.

Lower Stress

High stress can set off a chain of events that can negatively affect your heart. Often, when we’re stressed, our body releases adrenaline, which increases our heart rate and blood pressure. If you’re experiencing this a few days or weeks at a time, it can lead to chronic high blood pressure and heart disease, as well as a number of other health-related issues. There are many ways to lower stress in your life, including spending time with family and getting good, quality sleep. Learn more about how stress affects your heart.

Quit Smoking

“No matter how long you’ve been smoking, once you stop, your heart health starts improving right away,” – Heathy-Heart Steps. While smoking is addictive, it is possible to quit with the right mindset and support. Here, Million Hearts outlines some great tips for quitting smoking. 

Reminder: Smoking is not limited to cigarettes. Research is beginning to show the negative effects vaping can have on our heart, too.

Learn more about the “Heart-Healthy Steps” campaign.