Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, but you can take steps to protect your heart.
Building on an overall healthy lifestyle that includes not using tobacco or abusing drugs, these are the five most important things you can do:
1. Exercise at least 150 minutes a week. You can break the time into 10-minute or longer sessions of moderate to vigorous activity. Your heart rate should be at least 100 beats per minute.
2. You may have heard of the DASH and Mediterranean diets, both of which are heart-healthy, but following an overall well-balanced diet is the goal. You’ll find a good example of a well-balanced diet on the Choose My Plate website, which also serves as a great resource for choosing and preparing healthy foods from the five major food groups.
3. Visit your primary care physician for a yearly physical, wellness appointments and lab work when needed. You should feel comfortable asking your primary care physician questions and bringing up any concerns. Also, tell your doctor if heart problems run in your family.
4. Stay hydrated. Drink 64 ounces of water a day. That’s 8 cups of water or a little more than three 20-ounce containers of water. In addition, limit how much caffeine you drink.
5. Get the right amount of sleep every night. For most people, that’s six to eight hours. Studies link too little or too much sleep to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. To help you sleep find ways to reduce your stress, such as meditating or doing deep breathing exercises.
Subir Shah, DO, is a Loyola Medicine cardiologist whose clinical interests include preventive cardiology and treating pregnant women who have a heart condition.
Dr. Shah received his medical degree from Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. He completed a residency in internal medicine at Michigan State University and completed a fellowship in cardiology at Mighican State University.