"Heart Healthy" Tips
Dr. Dan Friedman, director of cardiac rehabilitation for Presbyterian Heart Group, offers the following "Heart Healthy" Tips:
Exercise can cut your risk of heart attack or disease in half. Exercise will also help you lower your blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, maintain a healthy body weight, and reduce your chances of contracting diabetes. So:
- Consult your physician before beginning an exercise program; then...
- Find something you enjoy!
- Make it part of your life.
- Try different activities, such as: walking, swimming, cycling, rowing, or cross country skiing.
Certain vitamins may reduce the incidence of heart disease and are generally believed to be safe. Check with your physician before beginning a program of vitamin therapy. Vitamins typically associated with possible heart benefits include:
- Vitamin C: is thought to be able to help reduce the build-up of cholesterol in your arteries.
- Vitamin E: may reduce the incidence of heart disease as well as helping reduce cancer risk and perhaps the effects of aging; recent tests show vitamin E may also reduce the complications of certain types of heart disease.
- B-complex vitamins and Folic Acid: may be helpful in protecting against heart disease; these vitamins have been shown to reduce levels of homosystene, a molecule in the blood associated with increased risk of heart disease.
- Antioxidants: for example, some of the components found in red grape juice and red wine might be beneficial.
Nutrition and Diet
All fats are not created equal!
- "Bad" fats: Saturated fats (such as those found in meat and cheese) are the most risky in terms of heart disease; most fast foods are high in these types of fat.
- "Good" fats: Olive oil, canola oil, and other oils high in mono-unsaturated fat may actually improve your level of HTL and "good" cholesterol; polyunsaturated fats may also have a benefit. However, fats of any kind are high in calories, and it's important to maintain an appropriate body weight to reduce the risk of heart and other diseases, so go easy!
- Avoid fast foods that are high in fat, and eat meats and cheeses in moderation. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables: Antioxidants and other substances in these foods help to keep your heart healthy.
- Eat "good" fats in moderation: Include small amounts of olive oil, canola oil, or other oils high in mono-unsaturated fat in your overall diet.
Stress and Anger
Calm down. Anger is thought to increase your risk of heart disease, regardless of your "personality type".
- Relaxation therapy can reduce levels of anger; deep breathing, biofeedback and yoga are all helpful.
- Simply taking a slow deep breath can help you relax - and help you keep your heart healthier!
- Don't sweat the small stuff; take good care of yourself, and your heart, instead.
Dr. Dan Friedman, M.D. is director of non-invasive services for Presbyterian Heart Center and heads up Presbyterian Heart Group's cardiac rehabilitation efforts.