MountainView Hospital’s new cardiology clinic, Las Vegas Heart Associates, has some tips on how to love your heart. The clinic currently employs seven cardiologists with various skills and specialties.
“You are what you eat” is a cliché term, but when it comes to heart health, diet is No. 1 on our specialists’ list.
“Adhering to a healthy diet reduces long term cardiovascular risk,” Dr. Anthony P. Dota III says. “These diet modifications can improve blood pressure control and reduce the risk of developing diabetes both of which are risk factors for the development of heart disease.”
Dota emphasizes that saturated fats, high sodium/high cholesterol foods as well as processed meats and sweetened beverages should be minimized. Instead, individuals should pivot to a heart-healthy diet that consists of generous consumption of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, whole grains and fish.
Exercise does not only make your muscles stronger, but it also makes your heart stronger. Dr. Alfred Danielian advises 75 minutes of moderate activity a week (brisk walking, biking) or 150 minutes of vigorous activity a week (running, swimming). Regular physical activity reduces cardiovascular risk.
“Exercising on a regular basis improves blood pressure, blood glucose and cardiovascular conditioning,” Danielian says. “Individuals should avoid a sedentary lifestyle and stay physically active.”
3. No smoking
Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death. Smoking can damage nearly every part of the body. Damaged blood vessels thicken and grow narrower, this makes your heart beat faster and your blood pressure goes up. Clots can also form, raising the chances for stroke. The leading causes of death related to smoking are coronary artery disease (CAD), lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
“Smokers who quit smoking reduce the risk of developing and dying from smoking-related illnesses,” Dr. Shadi N. Daoud says.
4. Annual well checks
Heart disease is preventable and treatable if caught early. Dr. Jeffrey Levisman suggests “regular visits with your doctor to help with screening for risk factors so they can be appropriately addressed.”
A routine check can include evaluation of your weight and BMI, blood pressure and routine labs including cholesterol. Many of the cardiac risk factors carry no symptoms and routine checks can help identify problems before they lead to heart disease.
5. Regular dental cleaning
Did you remember to floss today? According to Dr. Ronny Jiji “gum disease is a source of chronic inflammation and is associated with high blood pressure.”
When your dental hygienist urges you to care for your dental health, they are also watching out for your heart health. Brushing teeth at least twice daily, flossing and regular dental check-ups are a good way to keep teeth and gums healthy.
Patients with prosthetic heart valves need to take antibiotics before dental work to prevent valve infections.
6. Sleep habits- Anthony P. Dota III, MD
Good sleep habits can pave the way to a healthy heart.
“Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep at night. Poor quality sleep or inadequate sleep hours can contribute to high blood pressure, diabetes, and weight gain,” Dota says.
Snoring and excessive daytime fatigue can be symptoms of sleep apnea, a condition that causes low oxygen during sleep. Sleep apnea has been linked to high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, increased risk of stroke and heart rhythm disorders.
Measuring the Body Mass Index (BMI) is a generally accepted first step to determine if a person is underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese. The higher the BMI, the higher the risk of illness and death. Being overweight or obese can have your heart working extra which can strain your heart.
“Obesity and being overweight are associated with a significant increase in illnesses such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidemia, and coronary artery disease,” says Dr. Jonathan Rhee. “Maintaining a healthy weight starts with behavior modification followed by a healthy lifestyle and diet.”
8. Low sodium diet
Along with a healthy diet, reducing sodium consumption can also help your heart health. “Consuming a diet low in sodium around 2,000 mg per day helps prevent high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, which reduces overall cardiovascular risk,” Dr. Jiji says.
Eating too much salt causes the body to keep or retain too much water, worsening the fluid buildup that happens with heart failure.
“Drinking in excess can cause elevations in triglycerides, which is a component of the cholesterol, and can have many risks for other conditions such as blood pressure, stroke, liver disease and stroke,” says Levisman.
Drinking in moderation is the key, but it is recommended you discuss this with your doctor. For some people, drinking even moderate amounts of alcohol causes major cardiovascular risks. Moderate drinking, along with healthy eating patterns and regular physical activity, may not negatively affect individuals.
However, “If you don’t drink, it is not recommended to start,” says Levisman.
The ultimate goal is to keep you and your heart healthy. The Las Vegas Heart Associates at MountainView Hospital are here to help you love your heart.