Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and health professionals are always searching for ways to raise awareness about heart disease and increasing everyone’s knowledge about prevention strategies.

A number of factors contribute to a strong and efficient heart, starting with a healthy diet and lifestyle.

One of the best ways to take care of your heart is to know how many calories you consume daily and how many you burn up, which is one of the basic strategies in fighting obesity. Food labels with nutrition and calorie information are typically based on a 2,000-calories-per-day diet, and you may require more or fewer calories depending on your age, gender and level of physical activity.

No matter your ideal calorie intake, your body requires nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry and fish, along with non-tropical vegetable oils. These foods will help you control your weight, cholesterol and blood pressure, leading to a healthier heart.

Being physically active is vital to preventing heart disease and stroke, the nation’s No. 5 killer. Proper cardiovascular health is enhanced by a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise, or a combination of both.

Walking, climbing stairs, playing sports, jogging, swimming, biking, dancing, strength and stretching exercises are activities that contribute to a properly functioning, healthy heart. Physically active adults have a lower risk of depression and loss of mental acuity, and for many, a walking program is an effective and flexible method of exercise with high success rates because people find it easy to stay with.

Giving up bad habits is another way to ensure you have a healthy heart. Smoking is incredibly dangerous and hard on your heart so don’t start, and if you’re a smoker decide to quit now. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.

The possibility of developing heart disease is increased by dealing with a great deal of stress in your life. Ways to alleviate stress include developing a positive attitude when faced with stressful situations, employing stress stoppers such as taking a walk, not being afraid to say “I’m sorry” if you make a mistake or counting to 10 before you speak. You can also spend time doing things that make you feel good and help you relax, and always try to get a minimum of six to eight hours of sleep each night.

To learn more about heart health, contact your health care provider. If you do not have a primary health care provider, please call 317-880-8687. Eskenazi Health operates 11 neighborhood health centers throughout Central Indiana.

Dr. Maria Robles
Internal Medicine
Eskenazi Health West 38th Street

You can see this original article in the Speedway Town Press.