For Your Heart’s Sake

St. Mary's Heart Center
There isn’t just one key to having a healthy heart. There are a myriad of ways to keep your heart strong and functioning at top level. Good nutrition and an active lifestyle are the building blocks to keeping your heart healthy, but there are other things that can be just as important as diet and exercise. Here are some tips to having a healthy heart:
 
  • Stop smoking.
  • Lower your salt intake.
  • Focus on losing the weight around your middle. Studies in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology show that belly fat can raise blood pressure and negatively affect blood lipids (fats in the blood), thereby doing damage to your heart.
  • Move it. Sitting for long periods of time has been shown to have an unhealthy influence on blood fats and blood sugar. If you have a desk job, get up and take a break to stretch and walk every couple hours.
  • Learn what your optimal levels are for blood pressure, sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides, and keep them in check.
  • Cut the fat. Saturated fats should account for no more than 30 percent of your daily calories.
  • Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and fiber.
  • Eat fish at least twice a week.
  • De-stress. Unplug from your phone, the Internet and the news. Go for a walk or talk and laugh with friends instead.
  • Get more sleep.
  • Strengthen your heart with weight training—it reduces your body fat percentage.
  • Shoot for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five or more times a week.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Get regular health screenings.
Another crucial tip is to knowing the warning signs of a heart attack so that you can get help as soon as possible. Not all heart attacks are as sudden and as intense as they are so often portrayed on television. Some include symptoms that come and go over several hours or even days; and some start slowly with only mild pain or discomfort.
 
Here are some of the warning signs that may signal a heart attack:
 
  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain in the center or left side of your chest (it can also sometimes resemble the feelings of heartburn or indigestion)
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort (especially in women)
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat
  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness

If you experience chest pain or other signs of a heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately and get to the hospital. Every minute can mean the difference between life and death.

The Heart Center at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital-Jefferson City has mid-Missouri’s first accredited chest pain center, and is in the top one percent of U.S. hospitals in providing quality care for heart patients. 

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