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5 steps you can take right now to help your heart

heart health
Posted at 10:56 AM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-17 10:56:38-05

LANSING, Mich. — By now you know it’s important to take care of your heart. The risks that come from heart disease are too serious to ignore, and it’s crucial to start taking steps right now to make sure you’re healthy long into the future.

With that in mind, McLaren Greater Lansing cardiologist David McComb, D.O. [mclaren.org], has five simple tips that can start you on the road to a healthier heart.

Get active
“Generally, health care providers recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise a minimum of five times per week,” said Dr. McComb. “Your primary care provider or cardiologist can go over what your physical limitations are and develop a plan that fits your abilities and lifestyle.”

McLaren has many primary care providers who are accepting new patients within four weeks or less. Click here [mclaren.org] to learn more and schedule an appointment.

Skip processed foods
When it comes to your diet, many people think they’re doing well by not adding salt to their food. While that’s a great start, Dr. McComb says there can be lots of hidden sodium in what you eat. “Processed foods and fast food often come with high levels of salt already in them, which can lead to heart disease.” said Dr. McComb. “These foods are a real problem when many young people don’t know how to prepare their own meals that include a focus on vegetables and lean meats like grilled chicken and fish [lansingstatejournal.com].”

Cut your caffeine
Caffeine is a stimulant that can take a toll on your heart over time and can impact the rhythm of your heartbeat. Dr. McComb says you should limit your caffeine consumption [fda.gov], and he tells his patients to avoid energy drinks altogether because of unknowns about their long-term effects. Be mindful of stress

“As a heart doctor during the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve seen higher levels of stress in patients because of changes in family dynamics, work requirements, and people’s worsening mental health in terms of depression and anxiety,” said Dr. McComb. “Seeing a primary care provider [mclaren.org] to evaluate where stress is in your life and how you’re managing it is a great first step to getting stress under control.”

Stop smoking
Smoking is one of the main risk factors for developing heart disease and can accelerate the buildup of plaque in your arteries, which can cause heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral artery disease. Your physician can help you find ways to quit smoking [karmanos.org] and take a proactive start to improving your heart health.

Dr. McComb says it’s never too late to start taking steps to improve your heart health. “It’s important to be proactive. If you have a family history of heart disease, if you have diabetes, or if you’re a current or former smoker it’s critical to talk to your primary care provider about how to adopt a healthier lifestyle. It’s never too early to start.”

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