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Act now, prevent issues later with these 4 heart healthy tips

Act now, prevent issues later with these 4 heart healthy tips
February is American Heart Month, and while every month is the right month to care for your heart,
Carle Health is emphasizing the need for heart healthy habits this February.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease counts for one out of
every four deaths in America. It is also the number one cause of death in both men and women.

Dana Miller, NP, Cardiology, stresses that taking early steps to keep your heart healthy is the best way to
prevent a serious condition or heart event from happening in the future.

“It’s so important to take early action to keep your heart healthy,” Miller said. “The earlier you can get into the habit of making heart-healthy decisions the better. We love our patients, but our ultimate goal is to prevent them from having to see us at all!”

Miller notes that of the patients she sees, many of them show risk factors that go undiagnosed, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

Dana-Miller,-NP.jpgThe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic further emphasizes the importance of maintaining a healthy heart. High blood pressure, heart failure and coronary artery disease all increase your risk of complications and hospitalization after contracting the virus.

“When your heart is already compromised from heart disease, your body is at a disadvantage when having to battle a virus such as COVID-19,” Miller said. “That is why now more than ever, it is crucial to treat your heart disease as directed by your cardiology provider, so you can be in as good of heart health as possible and ready to take on a mean virus if needed.”

However, Miller emphasizes that if you can be proactive in your heart health, your risk of suffering from a major heart event in the future greatly decreases.

Miller shares four important actions anyone can take toward a healthier heart.

Establish a primary care provider.

Having an established primary care provider is important for the prevention and screening of any early
warning signs of heart issues. Miller says that building a relationship with a primary care provider is
important as they may recognize subtle changes in your health and be able to act on those cues.

“Many patients we see in the hospital with their first cardiac event tell us they haven’t seen a health
care provider in years, but now find out they have uncontrolled blood pressure, high cholesterol or even
diabetes that has gone undiagnosed and likely contributed to the event,” Miller said. “These are
manageable risk factors that could be identified and treated earlier with a primary care provider.”

Start eating a healthier diet.

It’s no surprise that what we eat makes such an impact on our heart health. Miller stresses that eating a
heart-healthy diet is one of the most important things you can do to be healthier.

Cutting back on sweets and sodas as well as processed food can be a challenge, but are crucial to putting
better foods into your body. Consuming more whole grains and lean protein is another great way to
make healthier decisions.

“I really encourage my patients to steer away from canned vegetables and instead choose fresh or
frozen when possible,” Miller said. “Fruits and veggies are a staple of a healthier diet, and often canned
products add unnecessary ingredients that actually make them worse for you.”

Establish an exercise routine.

According to Miller, an inactive lifestyle is a major contributor to heart disease. 30 minutes of moderate-
intensity exercise five days a week is a great way to keep your heart active.

Walking, bike riding, water aerobics and even gardening are all great examples of how to get yourself
moving and your blood pumping. Additionally, your favorite tune might be a good measuring tool for
the efficacy of your exercise.

“If you can talk during the activity, but you cannot sing, that means it’s a moderate-intensity activity!”
Miller said.

Stop smoking.

To have a healthier heart, tobacco must go, Miller says. In fact, the CDC warns that smoking is a major
cause of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and causes one of every four deaths from CVD.

In addition to smokers, those exposed to second-hand smoke also face an increased risk of heart
disease. Breathing secondhand smoke can cause coronary heart disease and stroke.

“It can’t be said enough that tobacco use is a major contributor to things like heart disease and stroke,”
Miller stressed. “Stopping smoking, or better yet, not starting at all, are crucial to getting yourself back
on track to better heart health.”

Learn more about the heart conditions treated at Carle and the Carle Heart and Vascular Institute by
visiting carle.org/heart.

Categories: Staying Healthy

Tags: cardiology, heart, Heart and Vascular Institute

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