Michael Hunter, MD on Medika Life

3 Ways to Improve Your Heart

HOW CAN YOU USE LIFESTYLE TO improve your cardiovascular health? In the United States, heart disease is the leading cause of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Moreover, a 2021 study found that four out of ten adults between the ages of 50 and 64 without a heart-disease diagnosis still had early signs of atherosclerosis (colloquially known as hardening of the arteries) that put them at a greater risk of experiencing a heart attack.

More specifically, atherosclerosis is a disease in which plaque builds up inside your arteries. Plaque is composed of cholesterol, fat, calcium, and other substances. Over time, plaque hardens and narrows your arteries, limiting oxygen-containing blood to your tissues and organs.

An artery supplying the heart shows significant atherosclerosis and marked blood vessel narrowing. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis can be associated with severe problems, including heart attack, stroke, or death. With this high risk of heart disease or stroke in mind, I want to give you three ways you can improve your cardiovascular health.

We don’t fully understand why atherosclerosis occurs, but one theory is that the inner wall of an artery is damaged. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking cigarettes, and diabetes can cause injury. Other contributants can be lack of exercise and a diet high in saturated fat.

Here is what atherosclerosis looks like in a significant blood vessel:

Severe atherosclerosis of the aorta. Autopsy specimen. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atherosclerosis#/media/File:Atherosclerosis,_aorta,_gross_pathology_PHIL_846_lores.jpg

Fortunately, there are some lifestyle maneuvers you can pursue to support your heart health. Let’s look at the top three ways to improve your heart health:

#1. Move

Even if you are not a big fan of vigorous exercise, it does not take much to improve your cardiovascular health. Start with a walk:Does Walking Extend Life?ARE YOU ONLY TO GET in a 15-minute walk as your physical activity of the day? My patients often ask whether walking…medium.com

Strength training and aerobic-style physical activity are also excellent approaches. Find a physical activity you enjoy and be consistent in doing it. Regular walking is a central pillar of my physical activity routine.

#2. Relax

The mind-calming practice of meditation may play a role in reducing your risk of heart disease, according to a scientific statement published in 2017 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Experts reviewed dozens of studies published over the past two decades and discovered that meditation might improve a host of factors linked with heart disease — making it worth including in an overall program for ongoing heart care.

Take a seat

There are many different styles and approaches to meditation, but here is a straightforward routine:

  1. Sit quietly and close your eyes. Breathe slowly.
  2. Relax all of your muscles, beginning with your feet, legs, and thighs.
  3. Shrug your shoulders and roll your neck to the left and then right.
  4. On each exhalation, say “peace” out loud or to yourself.
  5. Please don’t get discouraged when your thoughts wander (and they will). Go back to repeating the pattern.
  6. Continue for five to 10 minutes.

#3. Eat well

Diet plays a significant role in heart health and can impact our risk of heart disease. Here are some heart-healthy foods, according to Healthline.com:15 Incredibly Heart-Healthy FoodsHeart disease accounts for nearly one-third of all deaths worldwide (). Diet plays a major role in heart health and can…www.healthline.com

My take

I take things in small chunks, preferring to focus on simple, achievable goals that I can take on each day. I hope that these three tips help you to advance your cardiovascular health.

Thank you for joining me today.

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Michael Hunter, MD
I received an undergraduate degree from Harvard, a medical degree from Yale, and trained in radiation oncology at the University of Pennsylvania. I practice radiation oncology in the Seattle area.

Michael Hunter, MD

I received an undergraduate degree from Harvard, a medical degree from Yale, and trained in radiation oncology at the University of Pennsylvania. I practice radiation oncology in the Seattle area.

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