6 Healthy Lifestyle Habits to Shape Your Heart Health 

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heart health

By Dr. Derek Hiltz, Optum at Pasadena 

Dr. Derek Hiltz

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women of all races. By adopting healthier lifestyle habits, you can incorporate small but powerful changes into your day-to-day routine. Living a healthier lifestyle can keep your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels normal and lower your risk for heart disease and heart attack. 

Here are six lifestyle habits to improve both your heart and whole-body health. 

Choose Healthy Foods and Drinks   

Be sure to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, and less processed foods. Eating foods high in fiber and low in saturated and trans fats can help prevent high cholesterol. Since drinking alcohol can raise your blood pressure, if you choose to drink, limit the amount of alcohol consumed to no more than one drink per day for women, and no more than 2 drinks per day for men.  

Keep a Healthy Weight   

Maintaining a healthy weight is important. People who are overweight or suffer from obesity have a higher risk for heart disease. Extra weight can put extra stress on the blood vessels and the heart. 

Related: Heart Health: How to Eat for a More Powerful Heart

Get Regular Physical Activity   

Choose an activity that you enjoy, such as biking, yoga, walking, swimming or tennis. Physical activity can help maintain a healthy weight, and help lower your blood cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. For adults, the Surgeon General recommends at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, such as brisk walking or biking, every week. (Talk with your doctor before significantly increasing your activity level, especially if you have underlying medical conditions. Ask about the amounts and types of activities best for you.) 

Don’t Smoke   

Cigarette smoking and tobacco use can increase your risk of heart disease, so quitting will lower your risk. Talk to your doctor about ways to help you quit. 

Take Charge of Your Medical Conditions 

If you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes, you can take steps to help lower your risk of heart disease. Monitor your cholesterol, check your blood pressure on a regular basis, and manage your blood sugar levels. If you take medication to treat any of these diseases, follow the instructions carefully. Never stop taking medication without first talking to your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist. 

Get Good Sleep   

Getting a good night’s sleep is critical for heart health. More than 1 in 3 Americans say they do not get the recommended amount of sleep – for healthy adults, about 7 hours each night. Lack of sleep is associated with high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and obesity, all of which can raise your risk of heart disease. Stick to a regular sleep schedule; do not eat or drink within a few hours of bedtime; keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet; and get enough physical activity during the day.  

Dr. Derek Hiltz is a family medicine physician with Optum at Pasadena who has been practicing for more than 20 years. He has expertise in treating chronic high blood pressure, chronic diabetes and coronary artery disease.