5 Practical Ways to Improve Your Heart Health

It’s no wonder heart disease is the top killer each year. Poor heart health leads to life-threatening conditions like high blood pressure, heart failure, heart attacks, and stroke. Fortunately, most heart conditions are preventable or reversible with simple heart-healthy steps.  

At Girard Internal Medicine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Nicole Kimzey, DO, offers comprehensive internal medicine services, including help with heart health. She also understands the power of prevention. To help you stop heart issues before they start, our team has put together this guide. 

Read on to learn five practical ways you can improve your heart health! 

1. Choose heart-healthy foods

The most practical thing you can do for your heart health is to eat a heart-healthy diet. For the biggest benefits, center your diet around plants. Choose fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein sources, like legumes and beans, and unprocessed (whole) fats, like avocado. 

You’ll also want to avoid eating foods that hurt your heart. You can do this by staying away from things like all processed sugars, excessive salt, saturated fat, and processed and pre-packaged foods.

2. Move and lift more

Choose an activity that you enjoy so you’ll stick with it and commit to moving more at least five days each week for at least 30 minutes. Moving more ensures your heart keeps oxygen-rich blood pumping through your body.

Improving your overall body strength also works to keep your heart healthy. Aim to lift more throughout the week or choose to complete a specific weight-training routine two to three times per week. If you’re new to exercise, Dr. Kimzey can help you create an exercise routine that works with your needs.

3. Monitor your weight

Carrying extra pounds means your heart has to work harder than it should, increasing the risk of trouble. Losing the extra weight not only improves your overall health, but it also improves multiple factors related to your heart health, like lower blood pressure and improved cholesterol.

A practical way to lose weight is to shift your focus away from counting calories or measuring to consuming whole, healthy foods (mostly plants) and increasing your activity levels. The team at Girard Internal Medicine develops a healthy weight-loss plan tailored for you. 

4. Practice stress management

People have a hard time coping with stress in a heart-healthy way. This is important because unhealthy stress management strategies (e.g., lounging around, overeating, smoking, drinking alcohol, or staying up too late or sleeping too much) increase your risk of developing life-threatening cardiovascular diseases.  

Keep it simple and choose at least one heart-healthy stress management technique you can implement to boost your cardiovascular health. For example, when you feel stressed, try deep breathing to the count of eight or going for a walk. You can learn more here about the link between stress and your heart health.

5. Check your blood pressure

High blood pressure is a precursor of heart attacks and a major indicator of heart disease. It’s easy to monitor your numbers by using blood pressure machines found at most pharmacies and grocery stores or a simple at-home machine. 

Don’t forget to have your blood pressure checked by a medical professional annually if you’re over 40 or have a history of high blood pressure or every three years if you’re under 40. Regular care at Girard Internal Medicine ensures a quick blood pressure check and evaluation of other important heart health markers.

Learn more about improving your heart health by contacting Dr. Kimzey at Girard Internal Medicine in Philadelphia or request an appointment online today!

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