February is known as American Heart Month and provides a great reminder for everyone to pay close attention to cardiovascular health.
Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in the country for men and women. While routine testing with your doctor is the best way to monitor your risk for heart problems, Subba Kosuri, MD, interventional cardiologist on the medical staff at Centennial Medical Center, offers four key areas that can help keep your heart in shape at any age.
- Get regular exercise. Ages 18–65 should be getting at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity five days of the week, according to the American Heart Association.
- Eat a balanced diet. Choose whole fruits that offer high levels of fiber. Check for whole grains in cereal. Eggs, fish and almonds are all good options.
- Do not smoke. Cigarette smokers are two to three times more likely to die from coronary heart disease than nonsmokers.
- Manage your stress. Whether from work or personal life, take time to relax to ensure a healthy heart.
In addition to these tips above, regular visits to the doctor are important. A doctor should perform a variety of tests to determine your heart’s ability to maintain a normal rhythm or regulate blood flow. These tests sometimes begin as early as age 35 for those who are considered high risk but usually start around age 40.
Here is what you can expect at the doctor’s office. A simple stress test might involve running on a treadmill for your doctor to observe your heart rate while you exercise. The doctor might also perform a nuclear stress test by taking pictures of your heart with a special camera. During this test a harmless substance is injected, and the camera tracks the movement of the substance through your bloodstream to identify blockages or low blood pressure.
After examining the results, your doctor can advise the best way for you to improve your heart’s ability to function or might suggest you see a specialist. Diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol increase a person’s risk of having heart problems. If you have diabetes or a history of heart issues in your family, you should talk with your primary doctor about visiting a cardiovascular specialist.
As a Valentine’s gift to yourself, start taking the steps to building and maintaining a strong, healthy heart.
Centennial Medical Center is also hosting a free Women’s Healthy Heart Luncheon on Feb. 27 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. featuring more tips from Dr. Kosuri, a cooking demo with a registered dietician, healthful lunch and exercise demos by Get ReFormed Pilates. To register call 1-800-330-3819.