Living Well: Healthy Living Benefits Your Heart
What have you done for your heart today?
February is National Heart Month, a time to spread information and awareness about what people can do to improve their overall and heart health. That’s a very familiar activity, since that’s how I spend much of my time with my patients.
But February offers a special advantage: There’s a chance to also reach people who are healthy, along with those who can already benefit from cardiology care. No matter what your situation, this is information that can help you.
Know Your Numbers
When was the last time you had your blood pressure checked? Your cholesterol, blood sugar or A1C tested? Talked to a healthcare provider about any medical questions you might have?
Primary care providers are important because they are the first line of defense. The simple, non-invasive tests like blood pressure checks and standard blood tests can detect a wide variety of issues. Detecting these issues early or preventing them altogether has real benefits for your health.
Heart disease and diabetes cannot be cured, and heart disease is the top cause of death in this country. Isn’t it better to prevent them or treat them before they can negatively impact your life? Wouldn’t you rather be able to keep spending time with loved ones or enjoying your favorite activities? Seeing a primary care provider for an annual check-up is one way to help protect and maintain your quality of life.
Your heart lives for a challenge. Getting physical activity gives it the challenge that it needs to be at its best. You don’t have to become a full-time athlete to see these benefits. Half an hour of exercise, five times a week, can add years to your life.
If you want to know how hard to work to get these benefits, here’s a simple tip that is easy to remember: Walk briskly, and when you are breathing hard enough that you cannot carry on a normal conversation, that’s the exertion level that you need to maintain for 30 minutes. If you’d like to explore other ways for improving your physical health, the Owensboro Health Healthpark has multiple group classes as well as exercise options available. You can learn more about them by visiting www.owensborohealth.org/healthpark or calling 270-688-5433.
Succeed At Quitting
There is no question at all that tobacco products are harmful to your health. There are no exceptions to that rule! That includes cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, snuff or smokeless (chewing) tobacco. We also now have enough reason warn that electronic cigarettes or “vaping” are not good for your health and should be avoided.
The simplest advice I can give is that if you don’t use any of these products, don’t start. If you do use any of them, it’s important that you quit as soon as possible. If you’d like help, the Kentucky Tobacco Quit Line provides many different types of assistance, including coaching, nicotine replacement products and medications that can help you quit. The number for the Quit Line is 1-800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669).
Limit Your Alcohol Intake
If you consume alcohol, do so in moderation. Multiple scientific studies have found that light to moderate alcohol consumption can actually be good for your heart. For men, that’s 1 to 2 drinks per day and for women, it’s one drink a day. The American Heart Association defines a drink as 12 oz. of beer or 4 oz. of wine.
Don’t go overboard, however. Too much alcohol consumption has been proven to be harmful to your heart. Talk to your primary care provider about this issue if you’d like more information. Their guidance can help you understand the benefits and avoid the risks, and they can also tell you if this advice doesn’t apply to you because of your health concerns.
These are just a few of the ways that you can benefit your heart and overall health. If you have any other questions about what you can do for your heart health, talk to a primary care provider. They are the best place to start, and can help direct you to other resources or experts if necessary. How you live each day makes a difference for your heart. Whether that difference is good or bad is up to you.
Dr. Lior Shamai is board-certified in interventional cardiology, cardiovascular disease and internal medicine, practicing in Owensboro Health’s One Health medical group. For more information or to schedule an appointment with a One Health Provider, call 844-44-MY-ONE (844-446-9663).
For more information about heart services at Owensboro Health, visit www.owensborohealth.org/heartmonth