February 25, 2019

Tips to keep your heart healthy and strong

Jennifer Nguyen, MD, offers the following health tips to take better care of your heart.

“Knowing the do’s and don’ts when it comes to promoting good heart health is critical to the well-being of any person,” said Jennifer Nguyen, MD, a cardiologist at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center. “Generally, there are a few steps one should take to prevent heart disease, including making good lifestyle choices that impact one’s health.”

Dr. Nguyen offered the following advice to keep a healthy heart:  

Eat right for your heart

Heart-healthy food like fruits, vegetables, healthy proteins (such as fish, beans, chicken, nuts, and low-fat dairy), and whole grains will help keep your heart and blood vessels in good shape.  

If you drink alcohol, drink it in moderation

Drinking too much alcohol can raise your total cholesterol levels and your blood pressure. Limit alcohol to no more than one drink a day for women, or two drinks a day for men. A drink equals:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1 ounce of liquor

Get your heart pumping

It is recommended that you engage in 150 minutes of exercise a week, or at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days. If you can't do all 30 minutes at once, do 10 minutes at a time. Brisk walking, swimming, or cycling are especially good for the heart, but choose any activity you enjoy. Start at your comfort level and build up gradually. If you have heart disease, check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.  

Maintain healthy weight

You can tell a lot about your health with simple tools that measure extra body weight. Two of the most helpful are BMI, or body mass index, and the shape of your body. If you determine that you need to lose weight, learn ways to change your eating habits and be more physically active Losing just 10 percent of your body weight can make a significant difference in reducing your risk of heart disease.  

De-stress your life

Stress, anger, anxiety, and depression may keep your blood pressure high and increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, and other illnesses.  

If you smoke, now’s the time to quit

Smoking is bad for your health and is a leading cause of heart disease and death. It’s never too late to quit!

For more information and tips on health and wellness, please visit: https://healthy.kaiserpermanente.org/health-wellness.