10 Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Heart

10 Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Heart

A healthy heart is a good foundation for a healthy life. But are you doing the everyday things that help your heart function at its best?

Physicians Medical Group of San Jose wants our patients living in and around San Jose, California, to live long and healthy lives. Following these 10 tips is a good way to maintain a healthy heart.

1. Never smoke

If you smoke, give it up. If you’ve never smoked, don’t start.

The Cleveland Clinic says smokers are 2-4 times more likely to develop coronary artery disease than people who don’t have the habit. They go on to say that smokers have about a “70% higher death rate from coronary artery disease than do nonsmokers.”

2. Exercise regularly

Being physically active can lower your risk of heart disease and improve bone and joint health. You don’t have to train for a marathon to get in better physical shape. Just walking at a brisk pace for about 30-60 minutes a day can lower your blood sugar and blood pressure.

3. Beware of your cholesterol 

Too much cholesterol, a fatty substance within your body, can contribute to arterial plaque and narrow your blood vessels. This can lead to a heart attack.

That’s why it’s so important to monitor your cholesterol levels. If your total cholesterol is higher than 240 over several months, your doctor may prescribe a cholesterol-lowering medication.

4. Sleep well

Insomnia isn’t just an annoyance, it can hurt your heart health. Getting enough of the right kind of sleep is an important factor in having a healthy heart. Getting seven hours of sleep each night is recommended.

Research shows that inadequate sleep can lead to more arterial calcium buildup. Calcium in the arteries contributes to atherosclerosis, which can lead to a heart attack. Sleeping less than six hours each night results in the highest risk of detrimental changes in the coronary arteries. 

Sleep apnea, where you awake gasping for air several times a night, can harm your heart health. When you stop breathing, your blood oxygen levels fall and your blood pressure rises. If you suspect you have sleep apnea (snoring is often a sign), you should get checked out.

5. Manage your diabetes

People with diabetes have a far greater chance of having a heart attack or stroke than people who don’t suffer from the disease. When you have diabetes, sugar stays in your blood and weakens blood vessels over time. 

Managing diabetes means frequently monitoring your blood sugar levels, your blood pressure, and your cholesterol. Sometimes diet and exercise alone can bring your sugar levels down. But if lifestyle changes don't help your diabetes, you’ll have to take medication.

6. Control your blood pressure

Consistently high blood pressure can lead to stroke or heart attack. If your blood pressure is normal for your age, you don’t have to check it more than once a year at your annual checkup. But if you have high blood pressure, you should check it often.

As you get older, the risk of high blood pressure increases. Obesity, eating salty and processed foods, lack of exercise, and stress all increase your risk of high blood pressure.

If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may suggest you make some lifestyle changes, like losing weight. If that doesn’t help, you may have to take medication to get your blood pressure down.

7. Eat the right things

Diets rich in lean protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats are the best ways to get the nutrients you need. That doesn’t mean you can never eat a slice of cake or a bag of chips. But it does mean you should relegate “empty calorie” foods to an occasional treat.

8. Lose weight if you need to

Carrying around excess weight can increase your risk of heart disease, and other conditions that contribute to heart issues, including diabetes and high blood pressure.

Eating less and exercising more is the tried and true method of losing weight. If you need help, consult your physician at Physicians Medical Group of San Jose.

9. Don’t drink too much alcohol

Drinking a lot of alcohol can raise your blood pressure and can harm your heart muscle, causing cardiomyopathy. And if you have heart failure, drinking any alcohol can be dangerous. When you come in to see us, talk to your physician, who can guide you about how much alcohol is allowable for your heart health.

10. Your mind matters

Depression and stress are risk factors for heart disease. If you’re depressed, seek help from one of our doctors or a therapist. If you’re constantly stressed, try meditation, exercise, and doing things that add more joy to your life.

Physicians Medical Group of San Jose can help you find the right doctor for you. Give us a call at (408)937-3600 or use our online booking tool.

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