According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, but many cardiac events are preventable. James Censky, MD, a family medicine doctor with Ascension Medical Group Wisconsin - Sussex provides five tips to take control of your heart health.
1. Know and monitor your heart health
Start developing healthy habits by knowing where you stand with your heart health. Schedule your regular physical exam with your doctor and monitor your weight, BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate and other factors that could contribute to heart problems. Keep a log of these numbers, along with your physical activity and diet to help you stay informed on your progress and hold yourself accountable. This exercise can help you set healthy goals for yourself and treat issues as they arise.
2. Avoid excessive stress
Stress is a normal part of life — however, too much stress, prolonged and unchecked, can contribute to heart problems. It can contribute to narrowing of blood vessels, high blood pressure and increased risk of a heart attack and stroke. One significant way to reduce stress is to exercise regularly. Cardiovascular conditioning, strength, flexibility and balance are all important to maintain good health. Whether a brisk walk, yoga or a fitness class, exercise is proven to enhance both heart health and mental health. Other activities for stress relief include gardening, reading, meditation or listening to music.
3. Focus on moderation
Alcohol consumption is often linked to heart problems, and has been specifically shown to increase the risk of a common irregular heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation (AFib). AFib increases risk for stroke, heart failure and cardiac arrest. That’s not to say you can’t enjoy a glass of wine at dinner, but remember — everything in moderation. Less alcohol intake is better for cardiovascular health, particularly if you have underlying medical issues, and exceeding two drinks in a day is not heart healthy.
4. Stick to healthy eating habits
Try to limit foods that are too salty, such as canned or processed foods. Also, limit high-fat foods, such as red meat, cheese and baked goods. When it comes to a heart-healthy diet, the important thing is to maintain balance. A Mediterranean-style diet high in vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and whole grains has been shown to promote weight loss and reduce heart disease risk.
5. Find a doctor who listens
Scheduling regular visits with your primary care doctor and any specialists you see can help catch problems sooner rather than later, which can be lifesaving in some cases. If you experience high blood pressure or high cholesterol, make doctor’s visits a priority to keep a close eye on your heart health. At Ascension Wisconsin, our teams of primary care doctors and cardiologists can provide you with personalized care plans and heart screening options to check for heart disease and other conditions. Ascension Wisconsin doctors collaborate with you to create a plan that’s right for you.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Censky, call 262-785-7720 or visit ascension.org.