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Sacramento Boomer

Heart-Healthy Tips

Contrary to popular belief, hearts are not made to be broken. They’re made to keep us alive! As heart-owners, it’s our job to treat them well and make sure they stay in tip-top shape. So, we’ve sourced some expert advice on how to keep your heart unbroken, health-wise. 

Get up, stand up. “Even if you have a desk job, try to not be too sedentary, [which] is dangerous to your health, as it increases your risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, falls, and feelings of depression and anxiety.”—Tin Nguyen, MD, Cardiologist, Mercy Medical Group

Meditate daily. “The benefits of meditation for heart health are well-documented, likely because meditation helps reduce anxiety and blood pressure. I suggest taking five minutes each day to sit in a quiet place, focus your attention entirely on your breathing, count while taking in a deep breath, hold it, and then count while exhaling. Over time, you’ll be surprised at how much more focused, calm, and resilient you become.”—Uma Srivatsa, MD, Cardiologist and Cardiac Electrophysiologist, UC Davis Health

Weigh your options. “Maintain a healthy weight. While many people want to lose weight for appearances' sake, there are many health benefits as well. Not only will you feel increased energy, but you'll reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and some forms of cancer. It will also help control blood sugar, relieve back and joint tension, and optimize your immune system.”—Scott A. Vasconcellos, MD, Cardiologist, Marshall Medical Center

Avoid or limit alcohol. “Consuming no more than one alcoholic beverage (12 ounces of beer, 4 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of spirits) a day for women or one to two a day for men is recommended, as alcohol can increase the risks of stroke, high blood pressure, heart failure, arrhythmia, and obesity. The rumor that alcohol is cardio-protective is unproven. The long-term heart-health benefits of other lifestyle factors—such as regular physical activity and healthy eating—are well proven.”—Amparo Villablanca, MD, Cardiologist and Director of the Women’s Cardiovascular Medicine Program, UC Davis Health

Move more. “Exercise is good for the heart in a number of ways. It reduces the chance of major cardiac events (heart attack and sudden cardiac death); lowers blood pressure and cholesterol; improves insomnia, depression, and diabetes control; reduces osteoporosis and risk of fractures; and helps in weight loss and maintaining a healthier weight.”—Stanley Henjum, MD, Cardiologist, Marshall Medical Center

Dog (or cat) is your copilot. “Having a pet dog or cat can help lower the spikes in blood pressure when stressed and help promote a more active lifestyle. (Fido won’t let you skip out on your daily walks!)”—Alyssa Rose, CTRS, Recreation Therapist, Sutter Rehabilitation Institute

Breathe easy. “If you consistently snore or are a mouth breather, get tested for sleep apnea. Many people don't realize it, but snoring and trouble breathing in sleep directly affect the heart, leading to high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation); in some situations, it can trigger a massive heart attack or stroke.”—Amer Khan, MD, Medical Director of Clinical Quality for Sutter Independent Physicians, Founder of Sehatu Sleep Roseville

Let’s get physical. “Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate activity every day. You can even combine several activities to achieve that 30 minutes. For instance, park further from the store so you increase the number of steps or take the stairs instead of the elevator. Little changes daily have positive results over time.”—Mark Cavallaro, Personal Training Director, Roseville Health & Wellness Center

Get fresh. “A heart-healthy diet consists of fresh vegetables, lean proteins, and ‘good fats’ (such as olive oil and avocados). Processed foods should be avoided.”—Rishi Menon, MD, Cardiologist, Sutter Independent Physicians and Roseville Cardiology

Take it from Thoreau. “Exercise 30 minutes daily, or every other day. Perform an activity that you enjoy: bicycling, swimming, jogging, treadmill, elliptical, or just plain walking. As Henry David Thoreau said, ‘An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.’”—George Fehrenbacher, MD, Medical Director, Cardiac Cath Lab at Sutter Roseville Medical Center

By Sharon Penny