Little Heart Health Tips with Big Results, from Altru’s Heart and Vascular Providers

Beautiful woman doing breath exercises with an autumn backgroundYour heart is always on our mind. As your health partner, our goal is to help you lead a heart-healthy, enjoyable life.

We talked to several heart and vascular providers at Altru to see what heart-healthy habits they personally incorporate into their own lives. Learn how these providers manage stress, work fitness into their everyday, eat the rainbow and more.

“Stress management is very important. One habit that I do regularly to help with heart health is to stay physically active. For me, just getting on a treadmill or elliptical has always been hard to maintain. I have to find something that I enjoy. One thing I love is playing basketball.”
Seth Dorman, NP-C

“Every day in the morning, take 15 or 20 minutes to free your mind. If you make that a habit, it helps keep you focused the rest of the day. The mind wants to keep going, especially if you’re worried about something. Meditation is an effective strategy for preserving your energy. It makes you more effective at work, helps lower your blood pressure and helps reduce the risk of a heart event, because stress is a known risk factor for a cardiac event.“
Dr. Rabeea Aboufakher

“I try to exercise on a regular basis. When I am more consistent with it, I know I feel a lot better overall. Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean going to the gym and pumping iron. Walking is great exercise—30 minutes per day, four or five times a week. It has an effect on maintaining better blood flow throughout your body. If you’re walking, change up the scenery to keep your workout interesting.”
Dr. Scott D. Charette

“I try and do my best to get my 150 minutes a week of aerobic exercise. I like to jump on the treadmill at least three times per week. Exercise is critical for vascular health. It’s been proven as effective, if not more effective, than medications. I think of exercise like a prescription, with many positive side effects.”
Dr. Keith Swanson

Runner tying sport shoes

“To keep my heart healthy, I like to cook as much as I can on my own, and not eat fast food or buy processed food at the stores. I try to plan my menus for the week and go shopping once. I also try to make one meal a week meatless. Often, I’ll use lentils or quinoa for protein.”
Jenna Kelsch, NP-C

“Eating healthy is important for your heart. Some ways that I try to include fruits and vegetables in my diet is I try to have a spinach smoothie in the morning. I also try to pack my own lunch and that way I have control over what I’m eating. We also grow lots of vegetables as a family activity, which gives us a fresh supply of produce without having to go to the grocery store.”
Erika Kosmatka, PA

Fruit and Veggies

“I grew up in a household where it was common to smoke. But, the damage is real. Secondhand smoking puts you at a much higher risk for coronary artery disease and lung cancer. It’s not easy to quit. It’s one of the hardest things. Don’t give up. Keep trying. It can be done. The benefits are far too big.”
Syed Osman Ali, MD

(For more information about quitting smoking, visit with Altru’s tobacco cessation specialists.)

Beyond managing stress, being physically active, eating healthfully and quitting smoking, keep these other tips in mind for a healthy heart.

  • Get quality sleep. Small differences, like changing your bedtime routine or turning off screens at night, can make a big difference. Most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep every night. If you are having trouble sleeping, contact Altru’s Sleep Center.
  • Know your numbers. Blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and weight can all play a factor in heart health. Schedule regular appointments with your doctor to keep tabs on these key numbers.
  • Screen your vascular health. Early vascular screening can help prevent life-threatening conditions or long-term disabilities. Learn more about Vascular Screenings at Altru. 

The bad news: heart disease is the number one cause of death in America, killing more people each year than AIDS and all forms of cancer combined. The good news: 80 percent of heart disease is preventable. And, prevention is easier than you might think. These simple lifestyle changes can have life-saving impact.

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