“If you think about your heart — how it works 24 hours a day to keep you alive — you’ll understand how important it is to keep this powerful muscle as strong as possible,” said Dr. Gyanendra Sharma at Augusta University Heart and Cardiovascular Services.
Here are some suggestions to keep your ticker in tiptop shape:
Choose a balanced diet with foods from all major food groups, emphasizing fruits, vegetables, grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, beans, poultry, lean meats and omega-3-rich fish.
Lower cholesterol levels.
Limit dietary cholesterol to 300 milligrams a day (or 200 milligrams if you have coronary heart disease). If dieting isn’t enough, ask your doctor about taking a cholesterol-lowering drug.
Watch your blood pressure.
Use no more than about one teaspoon of salt a day. If lifestyle changes don’t work, your doctor may prescribe anti-hypertensive medication.
Tackle those triglycerides.
Start by following a low-fat, low-calorie diet and exercising regularly. If that doesn’t do the trick, talk with your doctor about medications.
Eating soy protein in place of animal products reduces total cholesterol levels, the “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides. Try soy as a milk alternative with cereal or in recipes.
Take up a fun exercise to help lower blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, plus stay in shape and reduce stress. Relax regularly with meditation, yoga, massage or a nice hot bath.
Benefit from breakthroughs.
Visit your doctor regularly to check on your heart health and to learn about new and improved tests to diagnose your heart problem and treatments that can help you feel your best.