Four cornerstones of prevention, nutrition can improve heart health

 

It turns out mom was right – especially when it comes to heart disease prevention and nutrition.

“The simple things matter: good diet, exercise,” said Preetham Reddy, MD, a cardiologist at Penrose-St. Francis Health Services. Penrose-St. Francis is part of the Centura Health Heart and Vascular Network, the region’s leading provider of cardiovascular care. “The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of exercise a week, and it makes a big difference.” Sound easier said than done? Reddy said each person has to push past his or her own roadblocks to make health a priority.

“We have to take more concentrated look at our schedules and how we’re spending our time now,” he said. “Don’t wait until next summer, next year, or when you’re older and the kids are gone. Make a change now to give your heart a healthy chance later.”

While there is no way to fully prevent heart disease, Reddy has four cornerstones for each person to adhere to for heart health:

1. “Not smoking is the absolute No. 1 thing you can do to prevent heart disease. Tobacco has perceived benefits, like relieving stress, but the detriment it causes to your heart health is truly profound.”

2. “People often forget about family history, but it’s significant. If you know you have a family history of heart disease, keep it in mind, bring it up with your doctor and ask: ‘What can I do to reduce my risks?’”

3. “Everybody has fad diets and tricks, but the simplest nutrition methods continue to show the best results. A balanced diet with fruits and veggies and high in fiber – that’s the way to go.”

4. “Exercise can make up for a lot of bad decisions when it comes to diet. The problem is, as other pressures and time commitments become part of our lives, even the most disciplined are tempted to shift focus away from regular exercise. I urge people to stay focused and build your schedule around being active.”

While there is no one path to heart health, Reddy said it makes all the difference to create a lifestyle that makes sense for your family and schedule, while remaining committed to your health. “Most patients know vaguely what they should be doing, but putting it down on paper or bringing family members into the plan, makes it stick,” he said.

Pikes Peak Newspapers, Editor

Hannah Blick has lived in the Pikes Peak region for six years. She studied journalism at Kansas State University and enjoys biking, skiing and hiking in the Rockies.

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