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Live Heart Healthy: 7 Steps for Lifelong Health

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Did you know that every 33 seconds in the United States, someone dies from heart disease? Or that heart disease has been the leading cause of death in this country since 1950? The stats are daunting, but they can be changed.

By taking a few small steps toward heart-healthy living you can better your overall health and well-being. The goal? Preventing heart disease by reducing your risk factors.

“Knowing your risk is always the first step. Then, it’s just a matter of focusing on those you can positively impact through lifestyle changes,” says Pavan Kapadia, MD a board-certified interventional cardiologist at AdventHealth Tampa. “For example, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes are risk factors for heart disease. If your levels are abnormal, you can work with your doctor to make changes that will help get them down to a healthy range.”

Knowing your risk also means knowing your family’s health history, so you have a bird’s-eye view of your whole health picture and can feel empowered to make lifestyle changes that will lead to a healthier you.

7 Heart-Healthy Habits

In addition to knowing your numbers and risk factors for heart disease, there are lifestyle changes you can make to keep your ticker beating healthy and strong for years to come.

They include:

  1. Eating a nutritious, balanced diet. Aim for a diet that’s rich in fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains and protein-rich foods, like beans and lentils, fish, lean meats, and nuts — and low in sodium, saturated fats and added sugars.

  2. Getting enough exercise. Aerobic exercise is most beneficial for cardiovascular health. That’s any exercise that causes your heart to beat faster and for you to use more oxygen than usual, such as running, biking and swimming. Strive for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic physical activity each week.

  3. Quitting smoking (or committing never to start). Smoking not only raises your risk of heart disease, it makes other risk factors worse. Ask your doctor about products or local programs to help you quit. Virtual and in-person group sessions sponsored by the USF Area Health Education Center Program are regularly posted on AdventHealth Tampa’s website.

  4. Limiting alcohol. If you drink alcohol, do it in moderation. For women, that means no more than one drink a day. For men, it means no more than two drinks a day. Drinking too much alcohol is linked to high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease.

  5. Getting enough sleep. Sleep is critical to good health. Not getting enough sleep, or enough quality sleep, can raise your risk for health conditions like heart disease. Adults should try to get between seven to nine hours of sleep each night.

  6. Managing stress. Stress causes a whole host of health problems, including high blood pressure and other heart disease risk factors. To reduce your stress levels, there are several options you can try, including practicing meditation, going for a walk, talking with a friend or family member or meeting with a counselor.

  7. Maintaining a healthy weight. The more body fat you have and the more you weigh, the higher your chances for developing risk factors for heart disease and heart disease itself. That’s why, along with eating a nutritious diet and getting enough exercise, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is so vital to heart health.

“Whether you take steps to live heart healthy one at a time, or choose to tackle them all at once, making them will help keep your heart beating strong and your risk for heart disease low,” Dr. Kapadia says.

Get Help Preventing Heart Disease

At the AdventHealth Pepin Heart Institute, our cardiovascular specialists are experienced in keeping your heart healthy. We can talk to you about your risk for heart disease, discuss ways you can reduce your risk and help you get started on taking steps toward a heart-healthy life.

To schedule an appointment or learn more about our cardiovascular services, please visit AdventHealthPepinHeart.com.

Pavan Kapadia, MD, FACC
Pavan Kapadia, MD., FACC

About Dr. Kapadia

Pavan Kapadia, MD is an interventional cardiologist with board certifications in cardiovascular disease, internal medicine, echocardiography and nuclear cardiology. He provides comprehensive cardiovascular care including stress testing, cardiac imaging and coronary interventions. He has a special interest in coronary artery disease management, nutritional counseling and lifestyle modification guidance.

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