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It’s February and American Heart Month. It’s also time to take stock in your heart’s health. As the area experts on heart health and care, WakeMed is celebrating this entire month and invites you to live life young at heart.
By making these 28 lifestyle changes, you can take steps to stay young at heart! (And, yes, we know there are really 29 tips.)
Eat your veggies. They’re loaded with fiber and antioxidants. And, when it comes to your heart, the greener — as in broccoli, green peppers and zucchini — the better.
"Choosing fresh vegetables over canned veges is a great way to reduce the amount of salt in your diet." - Jennifer Richards, WakeMed Clinical Nurse
Learn more about the impact what you eat has on your heart.
Walk the dog. Again. Because your best friend is your heart’s best friend. After all, who else can lure you off the couch and drag you out the door for a brisk walk?
"To stay heart healty, I take walks with my husband and Bernese Mountain Dog 2-3 times a week." -Robin Jones, WakeMed audiologist
Get regular checkups for blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes. Because, when you know your numbers, you can get back on track and, more important, stay there.
Learn more about why regular check-ups are important and request an appointment with a primary care physician.
Be positive. Look at the bright side. See the glass as half full. Develop a positive mental attitude. Your blood pressure goes down. And your heart gives you the thumbs up. Find out more.
Warm up to oatmeal. Coarse or steel-cut, it’s a fiber-rich super food. Full of omega-3 fatty acids and potassium. Add a banana for more fiber and your heart will thank you.
American Heart Association Recipe: Overnight No-Cook Banana Oatmeal
Watch your blood pressure. Check it regularly. Better yet, get your own cuff, keep track of your numbers and, if they’re too high, your doctor can help you bring them down. Learn more about why it is important to keep your blood pressure under control.
Learn from the American Heart Association: How to Monitor Your Blood Pressure at Home
Explore your greenway. It’s there for a reason. Take the baby for a stroll. Hop on a bike. Go for a run. Hold hands and walk. Whatever you do, your heart could use the exercise.
"I love to ride my bicycle, and I try to get out on the road as much as possible." - Stuart Russell, MD, WakeMed Heart & Vascular - Advanced Heart Failure
Wake County Greenway Maps
Bake, broil or stir fry. When it comes to a heart healthy diet, it’s not only what you eat but how you cook it. So bake, broil, stir fry and cut the saturated fat out of your diet.
American Heart Association Recipes: Broccoli Beef Stir Fry
Laugh out loud. When it comes to your heart, laughter is indeed the best medicine. It can raise your good cholesterol. And reduce stress and inflammation. So c'mon. LOL
Need a little motivation to laugh? We thought this was funny.
Get up and move. Get off the couch. Step away from your desk. Take regular breaks to move around. Go for a walk at lunch time. Your heart will last longer. And so will you.
A few simple ways to increase your activity level.
Shake off the salt. It’s in just about everything you buy or eat. Adding more salt from the salt shaker just adds to your risk of heart disease. And you don’t want to go there.
"To stay heart healthy, I avoid adding salt to my food, and I always choose the low sodium choice if I have the option." - Jennifer Richards, WakeMed Clinical Nurse
Need to know where to get started shaking off the salt? Start with these six salty foods.
Give a hug. Get a hug. Reduce stress and anxiety. Lower your blood pressure. Feel good all over. When it comes to your heart, never underestimate the healing power of a hug.
Get a Hug
Dance. Dance. Dance. Pop in those ear buds. Bust a few moves. Crank up your favorite tunes. Crank up your heart rate. It’s a heart healthy workout that also happens to be fun.
"I Zumba to stay heart healthy." - Anomis Dula, WakeMed Audiologist - WakeMed Physician Practices - ENT - Head & Neck Surgery
Check out these moves.
Open your heart to new ideas. Be receptive to new and exciting ways of doing things. Keep evolving. Embracing change has never been better for your heart.
"I scuba dive any chance I get!!! I have a weight lifting trainer 3 days a week and try to exercise on the elliptical at home every chance I get! " - Chantal Howard, VP Nursing - WakeMed Raleigh Campus
Find 40 Free Things to Do Near You
Find New Attractions Near Raleigh
Savor dark chocolate. It contains lots of heart healthy flavonoids which can acutally lower your risk of heart disease. So do your heart good. Indulge your sweet tooth.
Learn about the benefits of chocolate
Reduce stress. Curl up with a good book. Get a massage. Meditate. Learn a new skill and go all out. Because, when the subject is stress reduction, your heart is all in.
"Hiking is one of my favorite outdoor activities that get my heart pumping, and I also enjoy participating in fitness bootcamps for an extra boost when I need it!" - Jason Mitchell, NP - WakeMed Physician Practices - Primary Care - Brier Creek
Learn how happiness affects your health.
Sweet dreams. A good night’s sleep reduces your heart’s workload. Blood pressure goes down. Heart rate slows down. You get some sleep. Your heart gets a breather.
Find out how much sleep you really need.
Take the stairs. Instead of the elevator. Exercise is key to a healthy heart and even the smallest step is a step toward better fitness. And when you’re fit, so too is your heart.
"I take my lunch to work almost every day and try to take the stairs whenever possible for additional exercise during my work day." - Matthew White, MD - WakeMed Heart & Vascular - General & Interventional Cardiology
Three Simple Steps to Improved Heart Health
Get hooked on fish. Whether it’s salmon, tuna, sea bass or sardines, fish is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. Which help prevent heart disease. So, at least twice a week, go fish.
"My husband, Jordan, and I follow a Mediterranean diet (fish at least twice a week). We also limit processed sugar and red meat." - Kavitta Allem, MD, WakeMed Physician Practices - Rheumatology | Jordan Allem, MD, WakeMed Physician Practices - General & Interventional Cardiology
Print a handy seafood guide so you can pick the best fish for you and the environment.
Know your risk factors. High blood pressure. High cholesterol. A family history of heart disease. The more you know, the more effectively you can manage your risks.
Find out more about how high blood pressure affects your health
Be a kid again. Channel your inner child. Run. Jump. Play laser tag. Get fit, burn calories, give your heart a workout and, all the while, have fun. Remember fun?
"I love hiking and exploring new places!" - Shirley Huang, MD - WakeMed Physician Practices - Pediatric Weight Management
Learn to be a kid again.
Don’t worry. Be active. Walk. Jog. Dance. Turn household chores into workout. Whatever moves you, burns calories and elevates your heart rate. It’s all good.
"I try to walk 10,000 steps daily, use stairs rather than the elevator, and try to go to the gym or hike at least 4 days a week. I don't always reach these goals, but I am always thinking how to stay active and keeping my body moving." - Priyesh Patel, MD - WakeMed Heart & Vascular - Advanced Heart Failure
Spice things up. Limit salt in your diet by replacing it with herbs and spices. Whether it’s garlic powder, oregano, cayenne pepper or curry powder, your heart’s loving it.
Super 7 Spices and Herbs and How to Use Them
Check your cholesterol. HDL. LDL. Triglycerides. High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. So, for a healthy heart, keep your cholesterol levels in check.
Find out more about your cholesterol.
Give yoga a try. It will help you relax, reduce stress and improve your balance, strength and flexibility. Did we mention it may even improve your heart health? Well, we just did.
You likely have yoga resources at your fingertips you never even considered, including You Tube, Netflix, Amazon, library books, classes at the gym, and many more.
Take time for yourself. Give yourself a break. Carve out some alone time to gather your thoughts, relax, slow down and recharge. Besides, your heart could use the downtime.
Learn why solitude and time for yourself is important from Oprah.
Manage your weight. Because excess belly fat has been linked to high blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol levels. And obesity can lead to diabetes. Time to slim down.
Learn more about how your weight affects your heart health.
Pay it forward. Someone does something nice for you. You do something nice for someone else. You feel good. They feel good. And, best of all, it does your heart good.
Find a Way to Give Back Near You.
Saying thank you from the bottom of your heart... is also good for your heart. At WakeMed, we are thankful for the many cardiologists who bring their talent and expertise to take care of the hearts of so many in our community. To learn more about our WakeMed Heart & Vascular Physicians, visit: wakemed.org/hearts. And, THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts.
Send a note to your cardiologist using this form.
3000 New Bern Ave.
Raleigh, NC 27610