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4 Weeks to a Healthier Heart

4-Weeks-to-a-Healthier-Heart.jpgWhen January comes around, you don’t hear many people say that their resolution is to commit to a healthier heart. But based on the important role that it plays in our overall health, it might not be such a bad one to choose.

“Leading a heart-healthy life isn’t one big decision. It’s a handful of little decisions that we make in our everyday lives that add up,” explains Matthew Hillis, MD, cardiologist at Bryn Mawr Hospital.

Below, we explore how you can take steps to a healthier heart in four weeks.

Week 1: Find a healthy hobby
Let this year be the year that you finally set aside some time for yourself. Carving out some time for yourself can benefit your physical and emotional health, especially your heart. When you’re too stressed or have a plate full of commitments, chances are your sleep is suffering, and your blood pressure is on the rise. Commit to finding time to do something relaxing, whether it’s a phone call or dinner with a friend, meditation, reading a book or watching television, or taking time to enjoy doing nothing.

Week 2: Give your meal a makeover
When you’re hungry, you usually give more thought to convenience than how healthy your meal is. But making some substitutions during your meals can help. Instead of sprinkling salt on your sides, try new seasonings like lemon juice, basil, garlic, and paprika. Instead of a chicken dinner seven nights in a row, switch out your meat for vegetarian chili or fish. Going meatless once a week and controlling your sodium intake can both have a positive effect on your hearth health.

Week 3: Stick to a serving
There’s nothing wrong with reaching for a glass of beer or wine after a long day, but having too many can not only increase your risk for heart disease, but also certain cancers. Before you pour, measure out your drink to make sure that your “one” glass of wine isn’t technically two. One drink is equal to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor. If you’re drinking more than two drinks per week, start scaling back for better heart health.

Week 4: Get some sleep
Sleep often takes a backseat to our to-do lists and plans with friends and family, but not getting enough sleep can affect your heart health. On most days of the week, set a bedtime and stick to it. Getting a full seven or eight hours of sleep will allow you to wake up the next day feeling rejuvenated and able to tackle the tasks you put to the side the night before.

In addition to taking smaller steps to better overall heart health, don’t forget to schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor if it’s been more than a year since you last saw them. They’ll be able to test your blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels and refer you to a cardiologist or specialist for additional testing, if needed.

For more heart health tips, visit our archive of wellness articles. To find a Main Line Health cardiologist in your area or view other heart health resources, visit our website.
 
Posted by Main Line Health on 12/17/2013 10:26:59 AM
Read more articles about: Heart, Matthew_Hillis_MD, Bryn_Mawr_Hospital

4 Weeks to a Healthier Heart

4-Weeks-to-a-Healthier-Heart.jpgWhen January comes around, you don’t hear many people say that their resolution is to commit to a healthier heart. But based on the important role that it plays in our overall health, it might not be such a bad one to choose.

“Leading a heart-healthy life isn’t one big decision. It’s a handful of little decisions that we make in our everyday lives that add up,” explains Matthew Hillis, MD, cardiologist at Bryn Mawr Hospital.

Below, we explore how you can take steps to a healthier heart in four weeks.

Week 1: Find a healthy hobby
Let this year be the year that you finally set aside some time for yourself. Carving out some time for yourself can benefit your physical and emotional health, especially your heart. When you’re too stressed or have a plate full of commitments, chances are your sleep is suffering, and your blood pressure is on the rise. Commit to finding time to do something relaxing, whether it’s a phone call or dinner with a friend, meditation, reading a book or watching television, or taking time to enjoy doing nothing.

Week 2: Give your meal a makeover
When you’re hungry, you usually give more thought to convenience than how healthy your meal is. But making some substitutions during your meals can help. Instead of sprinkling salt on your sides, try new seasonings like lemon juice, basil, garlic, and paprika. Instead of a chicken dinner seven nights in a row, switch out your meat for vegetarian chili or fish. Going meatless once a week and controlling your sodium intake can both have a positive effect on your hearth health.

Week 3: Stick to a serving
There’s nothing wrong with reaching for a glass of beer or wine after a long day, but having too many can not only increase your risk for heart disease, but also certain cancers. Before you pour, measure out your drink to make sure that your “one” glass of wine isn’t technically two. One drink is equal to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor. If you’re drinking more than two drinks per week, start scaling back for better heart health.

Week 4: Get some sleep
Sleep often takes a backseat to our to-do lists and plans with friends and family, but not getting enough sleep can affect your heart health. On most days of the week, set a bedtime and stick to it. Getting a full seven or eight hours of sleep will allow you to wake up the next day feeling rejuvenated and able to tackle the tasks you put to the side the night before.

In addition to taking smaller steps to better overall heart health, don’t forget to schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor if it’s been more than a year since you last saw them. They’ll be able to test your blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels and refer you to a cardiologist or specialist for additional testing, if needed.

For more heart health tips, visit our archive of wellness articles. To find a Main Line Health cardiologist in your area or view other heart health resources, visit our website.
 
Posted by Main Line Health on 12/17/2013 10:26:59 AM
Read more articles about: Heart, Matthew_Hillis_MD, Bryn_Mawr_Hospital
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