Protect Your Heart With This Essential 5-Step Plan

It's no secret that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, but it's not inevitable. It can be avoided with healthy lifestyle choices. "Heart disease is 90 percent treatable – everyone can prevent heart disease anywhere in the world, especially by eating foods that are low in salt and cholesterol, exercising regularly, and not smoking," said Leslie Cho, M.D., Section Head for Preventive Cardiology and Cardiac Rehabilitation at Cleveland Clinic. "Even if a person has a family history of heart disease, we can still prevent and treat heart disease thanks to incredible advances in medicine." Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Dr. Tomi Mitchell, a Board-Certified Family Physician with Holistic Wellness Strategies who shares ways to protect your heart and says, "Being mindful of your heart health is essential at any age. However, as you get older, it becomes even more crucial to take steps to protect your heart. While it might be tiring to hear the same advice repeatedly, there are a few simple things you can do to help keep your heart healthy." Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Be Mindful of the Holidays

Family sitting at the table and celebrating holiday.

Dr. Mitchell shares, "The holiday season is around the corner–the family gatherings, the drinks, the food, the late nights, and the list goes on. As much as I enjoy the food and the gathering, I recognize that this is a time when we must be careful not to overdo it and still be heart conscious. When applied, there are fairly basic guidelines that should help protect your heart, and you can start being mindful of them immediately."


Get Active and Stay Active

Couple of female friends jogging on the city street under the city road overpass.They relaxing after jogging and making fun.Embracing each other. Walkers

Dr. Mitchell reminds us, "Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your heart health. Not only does it help to reduce your risk of heart disease, but it also helps to improve your overall health and well-being. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most days of the week."


Quit Smoking

no smoking sign

Dr. Mitchell emphasizes, "If you smoke, quitting is one of the best things you can do for your heart health. Tobacco use is a significant risk factor for heart disease, so quitting will significantly impact your health. Talk to your doctor about leaving methods that might work for you."


Control Your Blood Pressure

man having blood pressure checked

High blood pressure is a significant risk factor for heart disease, so it's essential to keep it under control," Dr. Mitchell warns. "You can help lower your blood pressure by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and managing stress levels. Also, you can't monitor what you don't measure, so regular blood pressure checking is essential."


Eat a Healthy Diet

Dr. Mitchell emphasizes, "What you eat significantly impacts your heart health. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats can help to keep your heart healthy and reduce your risk of heart disease."


Manage Diabetes

Young woman measures blood sugar level.

Dr. Mitchell states, "If you have diabetes, it's essential to manage it well to reduce your risk of heart disease. This means controlling your blood sugar levels and following a healthy lifestyle. If you have been prescribed medications, you must take them as prescribed. Diabetes, even though it is widespread, is a serious disease and has far-reaching consequences for an individual.  If you have diabetes, you are twice as likely to develop heart disease or suffer from a stroke. High blood sugar damages the arteries and vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood to your heart and other organs. Over time, this damage can lead to coronary heart disease, angina (chest pain), heart attack, and stroke."