HackensackUMC Mountainside Cardiology Promotes Basics of Heart Health for Lasting Benefits

February 19, 2014 05:16 AM

Montclair, NJ, February 19, 2014 - - In February we observe American Heart Month, which provides a great opportunity to get back to the basics of prevention as a way of keeping your heart healthy. “Anyone of any age can benefit from knowing the basics of heart health, and taking simple measures that will yield lasting benefits,” notes Harold Kim, M.D., Chief of Cardiology at HackensackUMC Mountainside Hospital.
 
The American Heart Association has identified seven key health factors and behaviors, known as Life’s Simple 7®, that have the biggest impact on your heart health. Knowing these factors and taking positive steps to implement them can lower your risks of heart disease and stroke, and improve your overall quality of life. Here are some tips for working Life’s Simple 7® (italicized below) into your everyday:
 
Eat Better and Maintain a Healthy Diet
Much emphasis is placed on losing weight and eating less, particularly at the start of the new year, but it can be difficult to cope with the deprivation, that seemingly goes along with it. A simple switch in perspective might boost your motivation and help bring added benefits. Instead of focusing on what you need to cut out and eat less of, flip the script and think about what you should have more of. Focus on eating better. Add more vitamins, minerals and fiber to your diet by increasing the amount of fruits, vegetables and whole grains you eat. A diet rich in fiber can keep you feeling fuller longer, which may help you eat less and lose weight. Sometimes a little tweak in perspective is all the inspiration you need to get things going in the right direction!
 
Know Your Numbers - The Importance of the Well Visit
Many people think it’s only necessary to go to the doctor when they don’t feel well or are experiencing a problem, but it’s equally important to see your doctor annually for a preventive“well visit” check-up. This visit should include a discussion about your health history and lifestyle, a review of your height, weight, blood pressure, and may include additional measurements, screenings and preventive services based upon your age, gender and personal risk factors. High blood pressure is the most significant risk factor in developing heart disease. Managing your blood pressure and your blood sugar, a key indicator for diabetes, can decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke. High LDL cholesterol can block your arteries, which may raise blood pressure, cause heart damage and can lead to a heart attack and stroke. Controlling and lowering your cholesterol can reduce your risk.
 
Increase Your Physical Activity
A gym membership provides myriad options for exercise and strength training, but it’s hardly required for a good workout or improving your endurance and flexibility. Regular physical activity improves your overall mental and physical health and has been shown to relieve anxiety, depression and stress. It can also give your immune system a boost, which can reduce the risk of developing heart disease. With the busy lives we lead nowadays, it’s sometimes difficult to carve out chunks of time to get active, but here are some simple and convenient ways to squeeze a little more physical activity into each day:
•   Do stretches when you wake up in the morning to increase blood flow and improve flexibility
•   Get out for a short walk in the morning, during lunch break, after dinner or with the dog
•   Skip the elevators and escalators and take the stairs instead for some quick cardio
•   Do your own household chores, cleaning and yard work. It’s multi-tasking with multiple benefits at its best!
•   Turn on the TV, yes, the TV! There are lots of exercise shows and on-demand programs to help get you moving. You can also use your kids’ video game system to bench press, dance or plank or your way to a good sweat.
 
Quit Smoking
According to the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, smoking is estimated to increase the risk of heart disease and stroke by 2 to 4 times. Yet the fact is, smoking is the leading preventable cause of early death in the United States. Whether you smoke a few cigarettes now and then, or several packs a day, if you quit smoking, it is the best thing you can do for your heart.
 
Making positive changes to these aspects of your lifestyle can make a big difference in your health. Start by setting simple and realistic goals for yourself. Working small improvements into your heart health routine can become a heart healthy habit, and before you know it, you will embracing a heart healthy lifestyle.

At HackensackUMC Mountainside Cardiology, we blend exceptional cardiac expertise and leading edge technology with a extraordinary commitment to highly personalized patient care. For more information about our services and community programs visit www.mountainsidehosp.com/cardiology.

 

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