20 Tips to Fight Heart Disease

GMC is committed to the fight against heart disease. Although you lack the power to change some risk factors — such as family history, sex or age — there are some key heart disease prevention steps you can take. You can avoid heart problems in the future by adopting a healthy lifestyle today. Here are 20 heart disease prevention tips to get you started. In fact, to help you know your risk for developing heart disease, visit gmcheart.com/yourheart and complete the Heart Health Risk Assessment.

  1. If you smoke, identify your smoking triggers, like stress or hunger and substitute something healthier like a piece of fruit or taking a quick walk. 
  2. On average, it takes a person eight tries to quit smoking. So don’t give up! Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your heart.  
  3. Each week,aim for 2 ½ hours of moderate activity to keep your heart healthy. Your heart rate doesn’t distinguish between walking on a treadmill or taking a hike in a beautiful spot. Pick an exercise that you enjoy.   
  4. Exercise, exercise, exercise. Can’t fit in a 30-minute session all at once? Break it into three segments of ten minutes each throughout the day.  
  5. Make small, heart-healthy choices throughout the day, like taking the stairs, parking farther from the store, or choosing water over soda. The human body has an incredible ability to reverse damage and heal itself. It’s never too late to improve your lifestyle habits with better nutrition, fitness and quitting smoking.  
  6. Acute stress is associated with heart attacks, but so is chronic stress – that ongoing feeling of being overwhelmed. People with a strong social system deal better with stress, as they make time to see or phone friends. Spend a few minutes every day relaxing to calm stress and clear your head.  
  7. Tooth and gum health affects heart health. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss once a day, replace your toothbrush at least every three months and visit your dentist for a check-up regularly.  
  8. Learn your numbers: cholesterol, fasting blood sugar and blood pressure. Your doctor can give you tips to bring these numbers into line with healthy ranges.  
  9. Women sometimes have different heart attack symptoms than in men. While men most often report a crushing or heavy feeling in their chests, women may experience feeling unusual fatigue, anxiety, nausea or indigestion. Take these symptoms seriously and call 911.  
  10. Pay attention to your body. If you know how you normally feel, then small changes – such as jaw pain or numbness in your arm – will be more easily noticed. Listen to your heart. When warning signs pop up, pay attention to them. By visiting a doctor early, you increase your chances of avoiding a serious condition.  
  11. Have you been putting off going to the doctor or dentist? Take a few minutes to make all your annual doctors’ appointments at once. You’ll follow through once they’re on the calendar. Know your family history of heart disease, and share this information with your doctor.  
  12. If you’re sedentary, check with your doctor before beginning a strenuous exercise program. But almost anyone can add a little more movement to their normal daily activities, such as walking the dog an extra block, parking a little farther from the store, or taking the stairs.  
  13. Don’t be a couch potato. March in place, do calisthenics, ride a stationary bike or walk on a treadmill. All of these are great ways to add a bit of exercise to your TV viewing time.  
  14. Maintain a healthy weight, defined as a BMI of 18 – 25. Learn your BMI at gwinnettbariatrics.com/bmi-calculator.
  15. Don’t hold it in. If you need to blow off steam, go for a run, hit a pillow, or sit in your car and scream (windows closed, please).  
  16. Take a few minutes of “me” time throughout the day at work. Pay attention to how your breathing feels. Take a walk around the halls. Or simply think of three things you’re grateful for. 
  17. Limit starchy foods and sugary drinks to help keep your glucose levels under control. High glucose levels can have an adverse effect on heart health.  
  18. Say no thanks to extra salt, and limit-processed foods that are high in sodium. These tend to make your blood pressure higher, which puts stress on the heart.  
  19. Switch to the lowest fat dairy products you can tolerate. If you currently drink whole milk, switch to two percent milk for a few months, then to one percent, then to nonfat milk. Try lower-fat yogurt or cheese, too.  
  20. Read the labels on the food you buy. Avoid trans fats and too much sugar, which includes dextrose, fructose, maltose and sucrose.


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