Heart health

One in four deaths in America is caused by heart disease—it’s the leading cause of death in men and women. Early action can save your life! The View asked Doctor Candida Suffridge, medical director at Georgetown Central Clinic, for tips on how to care for this vital organ.

Get fresh:   When you don’t eat well, you deny the heart the nutrients it needs and clog it up with plaque. Choose foods high in fiber, such as brown rice, quinoa, and sweet potatoes. Avoid foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol, such as red meat. If this guideline feels daunting, Dr. Suffridge suggests developing two simple habits to get started on the right dietary track: Add vegetables to every meal, and cook fresh instead of going to a drive-through.

Break a sweat:   “The heart is strengthened by exercise just like every other muscle in our bodies, so the more you use it, the better it works,” Dr. Suffridge says. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of cardio per week. The exercise should be moderately intense and could include walking, for example, or water aerobics. As a bonus, exercise helps reduce stress, which is terrible for your heart, leaving you happier and healthier.

Warning! Warning!   “Chest pain and shortness of breath are hallmark signs that something may be acutely wrong with our hearts,” Dr. Suffridge says, “and should prompt a visit to the ER.” Other important but less urgent signs include fatigue, regularly not feeling well, and inability to maintain your personal level of exercise capability.

Check it out:   Cholesterol levels and blood pressure are the two basic measures of heart health. Routine checks can help catch early warning signs of heart failure and heart attack.

For additional information on hearth health, visit healthsource.sw.org and search for cardiac.

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