In honor of American Heart Month this February, we challenge you to give some love to your heart. Here is a seven day self-care plan that is sure to get you on the road to improving your heart health:
1. Healthy Eating for Your Heart
Everyone has heard that they need to eat healthier, but knowing what that actually means can be overwhelming and confusing. If your doctor has told you to lower your cholesterol to reduce your risk for heart disease, then you might try these food ideas.
Day 1 of self-care: Try at least one of the foods from the list in the article.
2. Get Your Blood Pressure Checked
Did you know that you can feel fine and still be suffering from high blood pressure, also known as the “silent killer”? For that reason, it is recommended that you have your blood pressure checked at least once per year. If you also grapple with “white coat syndrome” (an increase in blood pressure due to the presence of a doctor or other medical professional), it is reasonable to use at-home cuffs or grocery store cuffs to get an idea of what your numbers are. Make sure that you remain quiet and calm for several minutes before taking the reading. Knowing your blood pressure and working with your medical team can be life-saving.
Day 2 of self-care: Check your blood pressure.
3. Engage in High-Quality Sleep
Sleep disorders can have an impact on heart health; therefore, it is important to know the signs of a sleep disorder. Because you are unconscious when asleep, asking a family member or person with whom you live about your sleep behaviors is informative.
Day 3 of self-care: Ask a loved one about your sleep quality.
4. Weight Management and Maintenance
Managing your weight is much easier said than done; however, obesity greatly increases your risk of heart health difficulties. If you have tried dieting and exercising with no success, there is still hope. Read the story of Elaine Lannom, who received an endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG) procedure from Vladimir M Kushnir, MD, to achieve her weight loss goals. If you feel that you have exhausted all options, speak with a physician to discuss next steps.
Day 4 of self-care: Make a plan for weight management and/or weight maintenance.
5. Moderate Your Sugar Intake
Sugar intake is closely linked to inflammation and heart disease. If you have a sweet tooth, try to snag a fruit instead of a treat. Moderating your refined sugar intake will help keep your heart healthy, keep your weight down and get you feeling more energized throughout your day.
Day 5 of self-care: Swap at least one sugary food for a fruit or vegetable.
6. Quit Smoking and Avoid Smoke
Smoking and regularly coming into contact with cigarette smoke is detrimental to your overall health and especially to your heart health. If you need help quitting, you can visit the Living Well Center Smoking Cessation Program. Did you know that when you quit smoking you begin to experience health benefits within just half an hour?
Day 6 of self-care: Quit smoking today or avoid smoke as much as possible.
7. Be Active for 30 Minutes or More
If lifting weights at a gym sounds intimidating, fear not. You can improve your heart health by focusing on increasing your physical activity by at least 30 minutes per day. Some ideas include dancing, swimming, walking and anything else that gets your body moving.
Day 7 of self-care: Try a new type of physical activity today for at least half an hour.
For more information or to make an appointment with Washington University Cardiology, please call 314-362-1291.
Heart & Vascular Center
Center for Advanced Medicine
4921 Parkview Place, Suite 8A
St. Louis, MO 63110