By Robert Harizi, MD
Chief of Cardiology
Reliant Medical Group
It’s always a good time to understand the importance of heart health and adopt healthier behaviors that can decrease the risk of heart disease – the leading cause of death in men and women in America.
Fortunately, we can all decrease our risk of heart disease by adapting healthier lifestyle habits. Small, but powerful changes in our day-to-day routines can not only help decrease our risk but improve overall health and increase our longevity.
Here are five habits that you can implement today to make a difference:
- Keep a positive attitude. By taking a few minutes out of every day to acknowledge what or who you are grateful for, you can tap into positive emotions which are linked to greater wellbeing. Try expressing them out loud to a friend or a family member. The year 2020 has been very difficult on many levels: a worldwide pandemic, political division, economic difficulties, and racial tension. It is even more important now with these challenges to have positive and uplifting thoughts and actions.
- Find support. Some old habits are especially hard to break, especially smoking, which is a major cause of cardiovascular diseases which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. In fact, according to the CDC, one in every four deaths from cardiovascular diseases is caused by smoking. If you are ready to quit, asking a friend or family member for support may help. The person supporting you can help you stay positive, celebrate your successes and aid in changing your daily routine – such as taking a walk instead of having a cigarette.
- Move more. Keep in mind any physical activity you do is better than none. Choose a physical activity that you enjoy such as biking, yoga, walking, swimming or tennis so you are likely to do it more often. Keep in mind that even small changes to your routine such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or parking farther away from a store when you visit can make a difference. According to the American Heart Association, regular moderate to vigorous physical activity reduces heart disease by 30 to 40 percent and stroke by 25 percent. (You should talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program or significantly increasing your activity level.) You do not have to be a world-class Olympic athlete to benefit from exercise!
- Spice it up. Sodium is a mineral that we all need, but too much sodium intake from the foods we eat can lead to an increase in blood pressure – and high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration dietary guidelines recommend limiting sodium intake below 2,300 milligrams per day (about 1 teaspoon) and substituting salt with flavorful spices and herbs that liven up your food, such as basil, rosemary, mint, ginger, cayenne, cilantro and dill.
- Floss daily. It may seem like a trivial thing, but practicing good dental hygiene can contribute to your overall health and the health of your heart according to the American Heart Association. Studies have shown that bacteria in the mouth involved in the development of gum disease can move into the blood stream and cause an inflammation in the blood vessels – elevating your risk for heart disease and stroke. Proper brushing and daily flossing can keep your teeth and gums clean, and prevent this from happening.
About Robert Harizi, MD, Chief of Cardiology
During his time as a cardiologist, Dr. Robert Harizi has learned that each patient is truly unique and often needs individualized therapy. “After making a diagnosis, I try to tailor the treatment which has the highest likelihood of success to that person. Before you begin any treatment plan, you have to take into consideration a patient’s lifestyle, what their job is, what their attitudes are – a comprehensive approach. It’s very...View profile View posts by this doctor