Heart Health Lifestyle | UnityPoint Health - Sioux City, Iowa

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Heart Healthy Lifestyle

The best way to prevent heart disease and other heart problems is to practice a heart healthy lifestyle. Prevention is the best medicine. Make a pattern of practicing these choices:

Healthy Low Fat Diet

Choose foods that are full of the proper nutrients. Vegetables are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber, but low in calories. Unrefined whole-grain foods contain fiber to help lower your cholesterol. And you know it is important to stay away from nutrient-poor foods. It is important to limit your intake of saturated fat, trans fat and sodium.

As you make daily food choices, The American Heart Association recommends you base your eating patterns on these recommendations:

  • Choose lean meats and poultry without skin and prepare them without added saturated and trans fat. 
  • Select fat-free, 1 percent fat, and low-fat dairy products. 
  • Cut back on foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce trans fat in your diet. 
  • Cut back on foods high in dietary cholesterol. Aim to eat less than 300 milligrams of cholesterol each day. 
  • Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars. 
  • Choose and prepare foods with little or no salt. Aim to eat less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. That means one drink per day if you're a woman and two drinks per day if you're a man. 
  • Follow the American Heart Association recommendations when you eat out, and keep an eye on your portion sizes.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

It's important to know how many calories you should be taking in each day to maintain a healthy weight. You shouldn't eat more calories than you can burn up in the same day. A person's disease risk factors and their BMI are important components in determining health risks with weight. You can check your BMI at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention BMI calculator.

Exercise

The American Heart Association suggest at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. A recommended schedule is 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Walking is the simplest exercise to incorporate into your daily routine. Ask a friend to join you to make each walk more enjoyable. Other exercise options include walking, jogging, swimming, biking, strength training and playing sports.

Don't Smoke- or Quite Smoking

Smokers have a higher risk of developing a chronic disorder, which can lead to coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke. If you are already a smoker, now is the time to quit. Click here for stop smoking tips.

Control Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart attack. A healthy lifestyle, such as the recommendations on this page, is important to preventing and treating high blood pressure. Do you know if your blood pressure is normal?

Health Screenings

It is important to identify risk factors early so you can treat those risks with lifestyle changes and prevention tactics before it leads to untimely cardiovascular disease. It is better to get a screening when you feel healthy and are still in a position to make positive life changes. Visit your family physician annually for a check up and participate in recommended screenings. UnityPoint Health - St. Luke's offers these heart screenings.

Know Your Family History

As modern medicine becomes more advanced, it is becoming more important to understand your family history and the health conditions of relatives. Understanding genetic history and family connections is a useful way for you and your physician to consider the risk factors you face for encountering certain diseases.