Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"How can I make my heart stronger?"
I've already adopted healthier eating habits but I don't want to stop here. I really want to avoid heart disease, especially since I have a strong family history. What can I do?
This is a great question to discuss with your physician. Making your heart healthier and stronger is a very important goal that will significantly improve your overall health and lengthen your life. The primary components of heart health are proper diet, regular exercise, regular medical care, and not smoking. It sounds like you have a good start by improving your diet. Adhering to a low calorie, low fat, low cholesterol, and low sodium diet is a very important step to maintaining good heart health. Regular exercise is another key component. You should engage in at least thirty minutes of light exercise at least three times weekly. If you can engage in half an hour of exercise daily, this is even better. The exercise does not have to be strenuous. Even a half an hour of walking around the block daily with your spouse, friend, or dog can strengthen your heart and reduce your chances of developing heart disease. Certain lifestyle choices like smoking tobacco or consuming excessive amounts of alcohol are very damaging to your heart. If you or someone you live with smokes, the best thing for your heart is to stop immediately. Alcohol can be detrimental to heart health when consumed in excess, so use alcohol only in moderation. If you have high blood pressure, you should reduce your alcohol consumption significantly, this will improve your blood pressure control. The final component is to engage in regular medical care with a physician. Many health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes can only be detected by a doctor. If these problems are well managed with lifestyle changes and medication, the negative impact on your heart health can be minimized. If you follow all these strategies and visit your doctor regularly to manage your overall health, you will stand the best chance possible of avoiding heart disease.