One Week to a Happier Heart
One in three American adults is estimated to have at least one form of cardiovascular disease. That’s a staggering statistic, but by adding these five tasks to your workweek to-do list, you can help your heart on its way to a lifetime of good health.
Monday: Starch Your Shirt, Not Your Diet
Eating starchy food regularly can lead to high blood glucose levels, which have a negative effect on your heart health. The American Heart Association (AHA) considers blood glucose levels of 126 mg/dL a warning sign for potential heart trouble. “Consuming starchy foods and full-calorie soda is the equivalent of sucking on sugar packets,” says Manfred Sandler, M.D., medical director of cardiologist at Gwinnett Medical Center.
Try this: Replace your breakfast bagel with a banana. Potassium plays a critical role in heart health, plus the fiber will keep you fuller longer.
Tuesday: Give Smoking a Pink Slip
If you’ve never smoked, or you quit more than 12 months ago, give yourself a pat on the back. “On average, it takes a person eight tries to quit smoking for more than a year,” Dr. Sandler says. “Simply stopping is one of the best things you can do for your heart.”
Try this: Identify your smoking triggers. Stress? Hunger? Swap them for something healthier, like a brisk walk or a piece of fruit. Of course, quitting is a commitment, so seek social support—every day and attend a Smoking Cessation class at Gwinnett Medical Center. You can register online at gwinnettmedicalcenter.org/classes or call 678-312-5000.
Wednesday: Take a Hump-Day Hike
“Being skinny isn’t associated with survival, but not being overweight is,” Dr. Sandler says. The AHA recommends at least 2½ hours of moderate activity each week to maintain ideal heart health, and for most people, that means integrating activity into their daily routines.
Try this: Walk to work. Or, if that’s not an option, enjoy a brisk walk at lunchtime (get your heart beating strongly), and nix eating at your desk.
Thursday: Learn Your Numbers
High blood pressure and cholesterol levels are two key components in heart disease. Blood pressure of 140/90 and cholesterol levels greater than 240 mg/dL equate to a much greater risk for heart attack, according to the AHA.
Try this: Say “no thanks” to extra salt and swap whole milk for skim. Salt has a known negative effect on blood pressure, while whole milk is high in both fat and cholesterol.
Friday: Phone a Friend
If you experience chronic stress, so does your heart. “Acute stress is associated with events like heart attacks,” Dr. Sandler says. “But chronic stress is associated with high blood pressure and cholesterol, which can lead to a variety of heart problems.”
Try this: People who have a strong support system deal with stress much better. So, call a friend and plan an outing. It is Friday, after all.
In a food slump? One of the most important factors in a heart-healthy lifestyle is eating wholesome meals. So visit pinterest.org/gwinnettmedical for some heart-healthy meal ideas.