Ask Our Expert: 5 Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States. It reduces blood flow to the heart, which can cause a heart attack. Half of men who die suddenly of heart disease have no previous symptoms.
Dr. Dave Chokshi, an internist at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue and the Chief Population Health Officer at OneCity Health, says there are three major risk factors for heart disease – high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. About half of all Americans have at least one of these three risk factors. Other risk factors for heart disease include:
- Having diabetes
- Eating an unhealthy diet
- Not getting enough exercise
- Being overweight
- Drinking excessively
- Having a family history of heart disease
You can help prevent heart disease by leading a healthier lifestyle and staying on top of your health. Dr. Chokshi offers the following tips for keeping your heart healthy:
- See your doctor for regular checkups, even if you do not feel sick. You may have high cholesterol or high blood pressure – two major risk factors for heart disease – and not even know it. This is why seeing your doctor is so important. Your provider can also help you manage conditions like diabetes and support you in achieving your health goals, like losing weight.
- Eat more heart-healthy foods. What you eat matters, especially for your heart. Eating more high-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, and beans can help you prevent heart disease. Limit your intake of saturated and trans fats, which are found in fatty meats, fried foods, cakes, and cookies. Look for “low-sodium” or “no salt added” on labels of products you buy at the grocery store to cut down on your sodium (salt) intake.
- Build more movement into your day. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week. Start small and add more activity over time. You can get off the bus or subway one stop early and walk the rest of the way, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or go on a brisk walk on your lunch break.
- Cut out tobacco. If you smoke, take steps to quit to reduce your risk for heart disease. Avoiding secondhand smoke is also important – keep your home smoke-free. Click here to learn more about the treatments available for New Yorkers looking to quit smoking.
- Limit alcohol. Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure. Men who choose to drink should have no more than two drinks per day. Talk to your doctor about how you can cut down on drinking for better health.
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