Seven ways to love your heart

Goals you can set to make positive changes on a daily basis.

Are you a glass half full or half empty kind of person? For me, I tend to lean toward half full. I see potential in all situations, and I always try to make lemonade when handed life’s proverbial lemons. With that said, I wanted to learn more of what I can do to improve my heart health — goals I can set to make positive changes on a daily basis.

Janet Smith, M.D., cardiologist at Norton Women’s Heart & Vascular Center, offers seven tasks that will improve your heart health.

1- Just quit already! If you are a smoker, you’ve got to stop. The time is now. If you want to improve your heart health (almost instantly), then put down the cigarettes. Get help to develop a successful plan at SmokeFree.gov or call (800) QUIT NOW for support. Tell your friends and family you want to quit and start your journey to being smoke free. Learn more about developing your plan to quit smoking

2 – Vent. Vent! VENT! Your stress, emotions and hostility all need to find their way out. Find a safe outlet, whether it be talking with a friend or your spouse, or going to a kickboxing class. In some circumstances it may be time to reach out for professional help with a licensed therapist. Find what works best for you and make it part of your routine.

3 – Do you snore? No really, it’s OK to answer this question honestly. Snoring can be an indication of sleep apnea, a condition in which you may experience pauses in breathing during sleep. These pauses will cause you to gasp for air and prevent restful sleep, which is associated with high blood pressure, arrhythmia, stroke and even heart failure. If you (or your partner) snore, talk to your doctor and schedule a sleep study.

4 – Get 10,000 steps a day. Are you exercising on a regular basis? Exercise can be as simple as walking. 10,000 steps per day are recommended and will make for a healthier heart. Get a pedometer or electronic activity tracker and get moving — you’ll be surprised how quickly 10,000 steps add up.

5 – Avoid overindulging … on everything. Unfortunately, the old adage, “Everything in moderation” is true. But there is a positive to moderation; you can have what you enjoy. Just be smart about it.

6 – Stop procrastinating and get a checkup. A strong partnership with your primary care physician is your first line of defense in protecting your heart. You should see your physician at least annually for a regular checkup. To find a Norton Healthcare primary or specialty care physician, visit MyNortonDoctor.com or call (502) 629-1234

7 – Assume nothing when it comes to your health. Assuming will get you in trouble every single time! So instead of assuming that your discomfort is normal or will just go away on its own, seek medical advice. Persistent pain and discomfort in any area of your body is not normal.

Take this online heart disease risk assessment to determine your risk for heart disease. The assessment takes approximately 5 minutes, and once you complete the test you will get a results report describing your heart’s age, your 10-year heart disease risk and your risk factors. You will also be given a list of risk factors you can change and those that are genetic or medical in nature, which you cannot change. Print or save your results and take them to your next doctor visit.


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