Pediatrician at Eskenazi Health
Although the annual February celebration of Heart Health Month ends today, it’s always a good time to review the many ways you can take better care of your heart.
While there are genetic factors beyond our control that contribute to the risk of heart difficulties, there are many things we can all do to lessen the odds of heart failure.
One of the most important strategies you can adopt to avoid heart disease is to avoid smoking or using tobacco of any kind. Any amount of smoking or using smokeless tobacco is dangerous, and secondhand smoke brings an increased risk of developing heart disease.
Thankfully, whenever you quit using tobacco the odds of developing heart disease begin to decrease within one year, and after setting it aside for 15 years, your odds of developing heart problems drops to almost that of a nonsmoker.
Exercise is also an important element in keeping your heart healthy. This could start small and work up to walking at a brisk pace, for about 30 minutes each day.
You should also try to increase the amount of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your diet as they will help protect your heart. Ingesting low-fat or fat-free dairy products are helpful, in addition to lean meats, fish and beans. The amount of fruits and vegetables should be five servings a day.
Proper heart health also includes getting plenty of quality sleep (eight hours a night for adults and nine or 10 for youths). Annual health screenings to keep track of your blood pressure and cholesterol levels are vitally important, along with finding ways to manage your stress levels.
Overeating, drinking and smoking are just a few of the unhealthy ways that people deal with stress, which causes the heart to work harder and less efficiently. Alternative healthy ways to deal with stress include relaxation exercises or meditation, physical activity and spending time with friends.
If you have questions about heart health or are in need of a pediatrician for your child or a primary care physician for yourself, call 317-880-8687 or visit www.eskenazihealth.edu/doctors.