This may be hard to believe, but your cardiologist doesn’t want to see you. Wait, what? A cardiologist wants your heart to be in excellent health, meaning you don’t have to visit his or her office. Unfortunately, that’s often not the case. With one in every four deaths attributed to heart disease in the United States, a cardiologist is often a person’s close ally in achieving optimal heart health.
Our cardiologists have some heart health tips, some of which may be surprising, that can help keep you away from their office. Some of this advice includes:
- Get moving
- Chill out
- Shut down
- Eat up
- Quit it
- Ask questions
Take a deeper look at the health advice from cardiologists at UnityPoint Health!
Heart Health Advice from a Cardiologist
Get Moving: Tips for Getting Active
It may seem hard to get going when it comes to getting active, but all you have to do is take a step. That’s right, we are talking walking. Going for a walk doesn’t require a membership to a fitness center; it is free and easy. By walking for 30 minutes or more a day, your heart will reap numerous benefits.
Walking isn’t your only physical activity option. If you enjoy swimming, riding a bike, rollerblading or any other type of physical activity, all will benefit your heart. Feel like you’re always on the go? Here are some tips to get you moving at work, home or having fun:
- At work. Because many of us sit all day at our jobs, it may seem tough to find ways to incorporate activity into the day. Do you have an upcoming project with a coworker? Go for a walk together while brainstorming ideas. Stand at your desk while on the telephone in place of sitting. If you’re traveling for work, walk around the airport while waiting to catch your flight.
- At home. It can be most convenient to get your workout in at home, and by combining it with other tasks, you’ll be able to knock two things out at once. If you are watching TV, don’t lie down on the couch, sit up or stretch. Are you headed to the grocery store? Weather permitting, park in the back of the lot and walk the extra distance. Instead of using a riding lawn mower, mow the lawn with a push mower.
- Having fun. If you’re looking for activities for you and your family to do that let you be active together, there are plenty of options. You can go sightseeing or plan an outing that includes physical activities, like hiking or swimming. If you enjoy a certain sport, join a recreational league that plays on a regular basis.
Take Time and Chill Out For Your Heart
This is an important piece of heart health advice from a cardiologist. Nowadays, it can be hard to unwind from certain stressors like finances, work or personal issues. However, when we are under stress, our bodies increase our adrenaline and potentially overwork the heart. Restore your calm by using these stress-taming tips:
- Laugh more
- Connect with friends or family
- Get creative
- Write down your feelings
- Get some sleep
- Practice yoga
If you have tried to relieve your stress with tips like these and you find that your stressors are still challenging, seek help. Professional therapists or counselors can help identify the source of stress and teach coping mechanisms to better handle it.
Shutdown - It’s Doctor’s Orders
Your cardiologist would likely recommend that you take time and “shutdown.” If you’re experiencing stress, it may be hard to turn your brain off and because of this, your sleep suffers. Sleep affects mood, energy levels and overall functioning. Create a bedtime routine, which can include listening to soothing music, putting away your cell phone or computer for an hour and maintaining a consistent schedule.
Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet
One of the biggest pieces of heart health advice a person may receive from a cardiologist pertains to eating a heart-healthy diet. Although you may be consuming plenty of food, is that food providing your body with the nutrients it needs to be healthy?
What does a heart-healthy diet recommended to you by your cardiologist look like?
- Contains a variety of fruits and vegetables
- Filled with whole grains
- Dairy products are low-fat
- Meat is skinless poultry or fish
- Oils are non-tropical
Are you aiming for a heart-healthy diet, but just love chocolate a little too much? Luckily, you don’t have to give up chocolate altogether. You can enjoy a piece of dark chocolate now and then! Dark chocolate contains flavanols, which have antioxidant-like qualities and can have a positive effect on vascular health.
That doesn’t mean going out and eating three dark chocolate bars, however. To reduce the bold flavor of flavonols, companies process the chocolate a lot, often adding extra ingredients. Pay attention to the dark chocolate you choose. Make sure it’s not caramel-covered and doesn’t have many extra ingredients.
Quit Smoking For Your Heart
Death related to smoking is entirely preventable. Those who smoke have an increased chance of developing chronic conditions like atherosclerosis or fatty build-up in the arteries. Smoking increases an individual’s blood pressure and increases the chance of blood clots.
When you quit smoking, your heart will give you great thanks. The health benefits of quitting begin almost immediately, and after a few years, the risk of stroke and coronary artery disease are similar to the risk for non-smokers.
Questions to Ask a Cardiologist
The health advice from a cardiologist will help you begin and continue your path to heart health. Nonetheless, it’s important to come to your appointments prepared with questions to ask your cardiologist.
If you need any tests:
- Why am I getting this test?
- What does this test involve?
- When can I expect the results?
If you receive a diagnosis for a heart condition:
- What does this diagnosis mean?
- What does it mean for me?
Treatment for Heart Conditions
When the cardiologist suggests treatment:
- Why do I need this particular treatment?
- What are the risks and benefits of this treatment?
If you have other questions, be sure to write them down as you think of them and bring them to your next appointment.
The Best Heart-Health Advice is at UnityPoint Health
The providers at UnityPoint Health are much more than someone you call when you’re under the weather. Our providers are trained to treat and diagnose common conditions and diseases. If you require care from a specialist, like a cardiologist, your provider will coordinate that care. Find a UnityPoint Health provider that’s at a location near you today to make sure your heart is in optimal condition.
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