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How to Improve Your Heart Health

Dr. Joseph Aragon
Dr. Joseph Aragon is a specialist in Cardiovascular Medicine and Interventional Cardiology. He attended the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and followed it up with training in Internal Medicine at the UCLA Center for Health Sciences. He is an expert in the management of patients with complex ischemic heart disease, peripheral arterial disease and structural heart disease. Dr. Aragon has an active research program and is dedicated to contributing to the practice of evidence based medicine as it relates to the treatment of heart disease. He is board certified in Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Diseases and Interventional Cardiology and is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology and the Society of Cardiac Angiography and Intervention.

Heart disease, including stroke, is the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S.—and right here in Santa Barbara County.

You are at higher risk of heart disease if you are:

  • A woman age 55 or older
  • A man age 45 or older
  • Or a person with a family history of early heart disease

Fortunately, with some simple-yet-powerful lifestyle choices, you can greatly reduce your risk for heart disease—and enjoy a long and active heart-healthy life. Here are ten tips from Sansum Clinic's own cardiologist and industry leader, Dr. Joseph Aragon.

10 Tips to Improve Your Heart Health

1. Cut down on salt. People tend to eat too much salt, causing water retention that can increase your blood pressure.

2. Stop smoking. Smokers are twice more likely to have a heart attack than nonsmokers. Your risk of heart attack decreases as soon as you quit.

3. Be active. Exercise keeps your heart strong and healthy so that it can pump blood efficiently with each heartbeat. Shoot for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day. Staying active benefits your physical and mental health and overall wellbeing.

4. Maintain a healthy weight. Carrying extra weight can increase your risk of life-threatening conditions such as coronary heart disease and diabetes.

5. Manage your stress better. If you find things are getting away from you, you are more likely to eat poorly, smoke or drink too much. Engaging in activities or hobbies you enjoy can help you manage your stress levels.

6. Know your family history. If a close relative smokes, has high blood pressure or high cholesterol and/or is obese or physically inactive, then you could be at risk, too.

7. Drink alcohol in moderation. A small amount of alcohol has been shown to have some benefit to heart health, but drinking too much alcohol can damage the heart muscle, increasing blood pressure and leading to weight gain.

8. Get regular check-ups and manage your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. People with high blood pressure have a higher risk of stroke or heart attack. Having your heart health checked regularly by your doctor can help ensure that heart issues are found early and corrected before they become problematic.

9. Keep your diet in check. A healthy diet can help reduce the risk of developing heart disease, and can increase the chance of survival after a heart attack. To establish a balanced diet, start by making small but sensible changes to your food choices (such as fewer fried foods and more plant-based proteins like beans, nuts and produce.) Avoid foods that are high in saturated fats and sugars, like cake, pastries and some dairy products.

10. Learn to recognize early signs of heart disease. Tightness in the chest, neck or stomach that occurs when you exert yourself but goes away with rest may be the first sign of angina, which can lead to a heart attack if untreated. If these symptoms occur at rest call 9-1-1. Do not drive yourself to the emergency room. The earlier you receive treatment the better the outcome.

Stay Heart Smart with More Expert Tips

Register now for our free heart classes and programs, featuring more tools, tips and information from our board-certified cardiologists, registered dieticians and nurses, physical therapists and other specialized heart professionals.

© 2014 Sansum Clinic