We've been giving special attention to heart health this month, sharing heart disease statistics; talking with Gordon Tomaselli, the president of the American Heart Association about the steps the AHA is taking to increase heart health awareness among women; and even giving you a run-down of this year's Red Dress Collection Fashion Show at New York Fashion Week.
Today, we're taking the more proactive approach. What do you need to know, right now, to change your life and put heart health front and center? We spoke with Dr. Herbert Insel, clinical instructor in medicine at New York University School of Medicine and senior cardiologist at EHE International, to get you a quick overview of how to improve your chances.
Photo by lifelikeapps (Flickr).
What should we be eating to foster heart health?
A variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Foods with "healthy" fats such as nuts, seeds, soy, avocado, olive oil, and canola oil.
Foods that are chock-full of antioxidants, flavonoids, and other substances that keep the arteries healthy also foster heart health. Examples include spinach, asparagus, broccoli, bell peppers, tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, oranges, and blueberries. By keeping the arteries healthy you are preventing stroke -- antioxidants have direct action on the arteries – they prevent plaque growth, rupture, heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular diseases.
How much exercise should we be getting?
At least 30 minutes on a daily basis.
What can we do if we’re professionals and don’t have the time to work out? Is there anything we can do in the office?
Use the stairs. Use lunch time to walk. Walk as much as possible during work and getting to and from work. Aim for at least 10,000 steps per day.
For those of us with kids, what kinds of activities should we consider to keep our hearts healthy?
Participate in sports-related activities. Consider recreational activities such as biking, skiing, and hiking. Walk together as much as possible.
How much sleep should we be getting – does chronic sleep deprivation affect the heart?
Sleep deprivation can, over the long-run, be injurious to your heart health. Aim for at least 7 hours of sleep each night.
How risky is it to take the birth-control pill for our hearts?
The risk from the Pill is small in healthy, young, non-smoking women. Caution needs to be undertaken amongst women with heart-related risk factors, women over the age of 40, or cigarette smokers.
Anything else we can do to improve our heart health?
- Maintain proper weight
- Choose healthy foods
- Exercise routinely
- Practice mental wellness health techniques/routines
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