6 Cardiologist-approved ways to protect your heart health
“Your heart is the most important organ in your body and it’s essential that you take care of it. But let’s face it, do we really understand why heart disease is the leading cause of death? Which means many of us will face it on a personal level at some point in our lives,” said Ella Dove, senior director of creative development at Well+Good, also the host of the most recent episode of the show The Well + Good Podcast, It’s all about – you guessed it – heart health.
Listen to the full podcast here:
Dove sat down with cardiologist Jenn Haythe, MD, associate professor of medicine in cardiology, associate director of the adult pulmonary hypertension program and director of the obstetric cardiology program at Columbia University, to talk about exactly what it means to have a healthy heart. Dr. Haythe, who specializes in heart failure, heart transplantation, pulmonary hypertension, cardiovascular disease in women and obstetric cardiology, emphasizes that the earlier you start investing in and protecting your heart, the better. .
How to start protecting your heart health
Here are Dr. Haythe’s six tips for looking after your heart health at any age, whether you’re in your 20s, 40s or beyond.
1. Work movement comes into your life in some way
For starters, Dr. Haythe admits that people can put a lot of pressure on themselves to be “healthy”, but it means different things to different people and also depends on you. disability, your socioeconomic status, geographic location, race, culture, and more. For example, it can be difficult to maintain heart health if you do not have adequate health insurance or your insurance does not cover a specialist visit. It can also be harder to get around if you don’t live in a place where walking is an easy way to get exercise.
That said, Dr. Haythe stresses that it’s best to start where you are. You don’t have to do daily intense exercise on the sidewalk if that’s not accessible to you. Just making time to add movement to your schedule is important for your long-term health, as sedentary lifestyle data shows that sitting for long periods of the day has a negative impact on health. overall cardiovascular.
2. Discover how to manage stress
Dove mentions that stress can be like one of the most difficult types of “heart health” to manage because life can be downright stressful. When you add to the strain that stress can put on our physical bodies and vital functions, it can start to make you feel a little overwhelmed. Dr. Haythe agrees that this is one of the trickier tips to do, but says it’s better to embrace those feelings instead of trying not to feel them. Another way to combat stress? Experiment with different relaxation strategies to find the one that works for you. If meditation isn’t that—it’s okay, maybe deep breathing.
3. Find ways to treat mental health challenges
Dr Haythe says: “If your stress reduction techniques don’t seem to have any effect on your mental health and mood, it may be time to contact a professional. “If you’re feeling stressed and anxious and can’t get it under control, think about treatment, there are many medications that can help treat stress and anxiety,” she says. She also recommends cognitive behavioral therapy and talk therapy to address some of your thoughts and feelings.
4. Get serious with your sleep schedule
According to Dr. Haythe, sleep is one of the most important factors for your overall health and that includes your heart. She recommends getting really serious about the quality and duration of your sleep if you want to protect your heart long term. According to the Mayo Clinic, adults should get at least 7 hours of sleep each night.
5. Consider quitting smoking
Not all nicotine consumption is created equal. Dr. Haythe says chewing nicotine gum is so much better for you than smoking or vaping. She said: “If you are looking for a place to start your cardiovascular wellness journey, quitting smoking and vaping is a really important step.
6. Try to treat health problems as soon as possible
“Blood pressure is something that can have a huge impact on your overall health, so I try to encourage my patients to get their high blood pressure treated as soon as they can. I know people don’t like taking pills, but the thing is. High blood pressure treatment at Dr. Haythe says, “Your early thirties are much better than ignoring it until it gets really serious.” Though it’s worth noting that many people experience it. barriers to care and inadequate care, which can make it more difficult to diagnose and treat blood pressure at a young age.
Things to remember to protect your heart health
Most people want to take good care of their heart health, but it can be hard to know what to do or where to start. Dr. Haythe reminds people that millions of changes don’t have to happen overnight, but that just taking small steps towards a healthier heart can have lasting effects.
To hear more about Dr. Haythe’s heart-healthy recommendations, check out the latest episode of The Well + Good Podcast here.