Top Advice for Improving Heart Health

November 20, 2020

Clinical Contributors to this Story

George Batsides, M.D. contributes to topics such as Cardiothoracic Surgery.

Saleem Husain, M.D. contributes to topics such as Cardiac / Heart Health.

Tilak Pasala, M.D. contributes to topics such as Interventional Cardiology.

We all know that keeping our hearts healthy is vital for overall good health and to live a long, physically active life. But there’s a lot of information floating around about how to achieve optimal heart health. All that information can be a lot to absorb. That’s why we’ve asked three of our heart health experts to share their best advice to pinpoint how to keep your heart in top condition.

Move Past Your Family History

Heart health is influenced primarily by two major categories: genetics and lifestyle choices, says Saleem Husain, M.D., an interventional cardiologist and the medical director of JFK University Medical Center’s Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory.

“There are certain things that you’re born with that you can’t really do much about,” he says. “For example, if you have a family history of heart disease, there’s not much you can do about it.” However, you can make lifestyle choices that can help prevent heart disease, reduce your risks and help manage heart disease if you have it.

Keep Your Weight in Check

“Watch your weight and your diet,” Dr. Husain says. “That’s really key.” That’s because obesity correlates with high blood pressure and diabetes, both of which have serious negative impacts on heart health and overall health. For those who have high blood pressure or diabetes, the best way to help your heart is to keep both well managed and under control, he says.

Quit Smoking

Not smoking is a huge lifestyle decision people can make to improve their heart health, says George Batsides, M.D., chief of cardiac surgery at Hackensack. “Smoking is obviously something that is extremely unhealthy for the heart in many ways,” he says. “People need to know that smoking hurts the heart as much or more than the lungs. If you’re smoker, smoking is like adding fuel to the fire.”

Beat the Stress

Eating a Mediterranean diet and getting daily exercise, even if it’s walking just 30 minutes a day, is also important to keeping your heart in optimal shape, Dr. Batsides says. But just as much as we need activity, we, and our hearts, also need to rest and destress. Stretching, yoga, meditation and adequate sleep all aid in alleviating stress and allow our bodies to reset.

Work With Your Primary Care Doctor

Working with your primary cardiologist to take care of your heart is an often-overlooked facet in heart health, says Tilak Pasala, M.D., an interventional cardiologist. “Primary cardiologists are well trained to look at any abnormalities and understand the best way to prevent or mitigate some of the risks involved,” he says.

Your doctor can help you manage your risk factors, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, in order to best protect your heart. He or she can order appropriate tests to diagnose and manage heart disease, monitor medications such a statins to control cholesterol or even prevent future serious heart health problems. And your doctor acts as a hub to connect you with specialists or specialized care, if that is needed, Dr. Pasala says.

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The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.