Many heart diseases like congestive heart failure and atrial fibrillation can be caught early and treated, and patients can continue to lead an active and rewarding life.
It’s important to stay on top of blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which can be warnings of potential developing heart disease. “For most men and women in this country, cardiovascular disease is still a leading cause of death,” says Riple Hansalia, M.D., who specializes in cardiology and electrophysiology at Hackensack Meridian Jersey Shore University Medical Center. Keeping in contact with your doctor is an important step. Together you and your doctor can set goals for your health, and staying in touch motivates you to keep making progress toward your health goals.
Jesus Leandro Almendral, M.D., medical director of the Advanced Heart Failure Center at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, adds that there are many small things we can do every day that add up to better heart health over the years.
He offers eight tips to maintain heart health as you age:
1. Get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week. For example, a half-hour walk during your lunch break on weekdays would tune up your heart and refresh you for your afternoon work.
2. Watch your sodium/salt intake. The recommended amount of salt a person should eat daily is 1,500 mg, but it’s very easy to eat more. Read the labels on foods, and opt for fresh versions of foods rather than canned ones, for example.
3. Cook at home as much as possible. Home cooking makes it easier to control sodium content and portion sizes.
4. When eating at restaurants, look for “heart healthy” options on the menu.
5. If you smoke, get help to quit. Smoking is bad for your heart and also encourages snacking on high-sodium foods.
6. Limit your alcohol intake.
7. Focus on maintaining a healthy weight.
8. Work with your physician to ensure that other health conditions, like diabetes, stay under control.
In addition to working with your doctor, it can be fun to have a buddy to work with on achieving your heart-healthy goals. Share recipes and cook “together” over video chat. Set up an online chat where you and friends report successes and support one another when temptation strikes.
The bottom line is that by keeping your heart healthy, you dramatically increase the likelihood that you will enjoy better health for as long as you live.
For information about available cardiovascular services at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, visit www.jerseyshoreuniversitymedicalcenter.com/services/cardiovascular-program. For a free physician referral, call 800-822-8905.