UCLA tips for a healthy heart

Social connections, a healthy diet and stress reduction are just a few of the things we can do to support the heart.

February 16, 2012 16:37
2 minute read.
Runners in the Jerusalem Marathon

Runners in the Jerusalem Marathon 521. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)


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 It’s that time of year to remind ourselves to embrace lifestyle choices that can help maintain a healthy heart.

UCLA cardiologist Dr. Karol Watson says that social connections, a healthy diet and stress reduction are just a few of the things we can do to support the heart.

“Taking a walk on the beach with someone special, eating delicious healthy foods or taking time to relax can contribute to a healthy heart,” said Watson, associate professor of cardiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “Much of heart disease can be prevented so it is very important to follow a healthy lifestyle and to control your cardiovascular risk factors.”

Here are some other tips:

•    Get your heart pumping. New recommendations for a healthy heart are to participate in aerobic exercise for 30 to 60 minutes daily. The good news is that new research confirms this can be done in increments as short as 10 minutes at a time. So doing anything that gets your heart rate up such as a brisk stroll around the block, active gardening, or even walking in the mall all count. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight and keeps your heart strong!

•    Eat well to maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese has been shown to increase the risk of heart attacks, heart failure, and diabetes. A healthy diet is one of the best ways to maintain a normal weight.

•    Follow your heart. Your loved ones will appreciate you taking care of your heart throughout the year. Remember to get the appropriate screening tests that you need for cholesterol levels, blood pressure and blood glucose, and see your doctor regularly.

•     Take your medications as recommended by your physician. Many patients stop taking their prescribed medications without discussing this with their physicians. Studies show individuals who stop their cardiovascular medications are at much higher risk for heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, and reduced survival compared to those who adhere to their medical regimen.

•    Reduce Stress. By finding a positive outlet, like exercise, meditation and spending time with family and friends, you can relieve stress and also improve your health.

•    Quit Smoking. Quit smoking since it markedly increases the risk of heart attacks and heart failure.

This article was first published on www.newswise.com.

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