How Exercise Promotes Heart Health

Your diet is key to improving and maintaining heart health, but exercise also plays an important role. Your doctor can help you create and maintain a set of fitness goals based on your medical history, lifestyle, personal desires and abilities. Most exercise programs are flexible enough for every participant. You may need to start out slowly, walking for example, rather than jogging, but the best way to begin is by starting slowly and working your way up to more strenuous activities. Exercise Goals You should be aiming for about 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least 5 days a week. If you’re not able to sustain that level of activity, then do what you are able and work up to your goal. Stretching and warming up are important parts of the exercise routine. The point of aerobic activity is to raise your heartrate for a sustained period. Types of Exercise Depending on your fitness level and abilities, there is a fitness option for everyone. Most people start by walking, and work up to jogging or running. If you have joint issues, however, you may wish to consider alternatives like yoga or swimming. Be sure to talk to your doctor about target heartrates during activity. You should be able to hold a conversation during your workout. If you can’t catch your breath, you could be pushing your body too hard. Avoid Fitness Ruts Alternating exercises is important to staving off boredom. There’s nothing worse than dreading your workout because you’re doing the same old thing day in and day out. If walking or jogging don’t appeal to you, consider joining...

Healthy Heart Desserts for Summer

Ah, summer. It’s a time for pool parties, for popsicles dripping in the heat, for ice-cream and cookouts. And for heart patients, it’s often a minefield of parties and gatherings with tables loaded with forbidden treats. Anyone following a heart-healthy diet knows it can be challenging to pass up the goodies in favor of good health. Tired of plain fruit salad replacing “real” dessert on your plate? Here are some heart healthy desserts for the summer that will taste delicious and leave your heart happy and healthy!   Heart Healthy Desserts For Summer:   Berry Compote   Rich, creamy, and just naturally sweet enough to be pleasing without overwhelming the taste buds with sugar, a compote pairs with a low-sugar frozen yogurt to take it from boring to something to be savored. To Make:   Combine two cups of berries with 3 tablespoons of water, a scant ¼ cup (or less to taste) of sugar, and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Cook one cup of the berries with the other ingredients for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently. Add the rest of the blueberries and cook for another 5-8 minutes. Serve warm over frozen yogurt or pair with low-fat crepes, and top with low-fat whipped cream for a delicious summer treat.   Strawberry “Ice Cream”   Who doesn’t love ice-cream on a hot summer’s day? Yet the real stuff is overflowing with sugar, cholesterol, and fat. You can enjoy the flavor without the guilt with this simple, ingenious recipe. To Make:   Blend in a blender or food processor one pound of frozen strawberries, 1 cup 2% plain Greek...

Heart-Healthy Food for the Summer

Summer can be a difficult time to stick to a heart-healthy diet, from BBQs with the family, beer by the pool, and rich desserts on the buffet. It’s also the best possible time to reorganize your diet and create a heart-healthy food menu that satisfies your taste buds and your need to cut cholesterol. Barbecuing with the Family Burger and hot dogs on the grill are among the icons of summer. Hardly a weekend goes by without the smell of grilling meats wafting through the neighborhood. Although doctors frown upon a steady diet of fatty meats for heart patients, there are ways to enjoy an afternoon BBQ without skimping on portions or health. Heart-Healthy Food Alternatives: Mix ground green bell pepper and onion with lean beef for a healthier, tasty burger Pork and beef move over, there’s room on that grill for some succulent salmon steaks, too Soak corn on the cob and throw it on the grill husk and all for grilled corn Swap out heavy mayonnaise and butter with avocado spread for a delicious condiment Load up on fresh veggies, and skip the cakes and creams for fresh fruits at the dessert table Take Advantage of Summer’s Bounty Summer is the best time to develop a new menu, stocked with fresh produce and leafy greens. Get creative with your cooking and consider adding roasted fresh-picked vegetables to your meals. Simply spray tin foil with olive oil, wrap cubed vegetables, and bake. Fruit smoothies, made with low-fat yogurt and fresh fruit, are an excellent heart-healthy food choice for breakfast! Add some low-fat cereal with skim milk or an egg...

How to Prepare for Your Heart Surgery

Facing heart surgery can be a challenging experience. Good preparation not only maximizes your chances for a fast recovery, it helps to calm the nerves and provide you with a sense of control over what’s happening. Follow your doctor’s instructions carefully for the best possible outcome from  your procedure. Cut out Nicotine and Alcohol Quit smoking, and avoid alcohol for at least two weeks before your surgery. Nicotine and alcohol both inhibit healing. Alcohol impairs the immune system, liver function, and natural blood coagulation. Nicotine reduces the amount of oxygen your blood is able to carry to the cells. Take Deep Breaths If your care team has given you a device called an incentive spirometer, use it and use it often. The device is designed to help you take slow, deep breaths, which improve lung function. Begin using the device as early as possible before your surgery, and use it as often as possible to reduce your chances of pneumonia and other post-surgical breathing problems. Visit Your Dentist If you have any cavities or other dental work that needs to be done, do it sooner rather than later. Discuss any dental work you’ll need to have done with your surgeon well ahead of time. Abscesses and infected teeth can create an infection in the heart’s lining, so your surgeon may require that you have any dental work completed before scheduling your heart surgery. Prepare the Family Finally, it may be helpful to have one family member who will act as an information relay for friends and family. Because of privacy concerns, your medical team will be unable to release...

Healthy Heart Habits For You

Keeping a healthy heart means more than seeing your doctor regularly. Healthy lifestyle choices can help keep your ticker thumping along longer. Taking some simple steps in your every-day life is the best way to improve your heart health. Healthy Heart Tip #1: Eat Right We all know that avoiding red meat and fatty fried foods are recommended for a healthy heart. Did you know that high levels of sugar can also affect heart health? A rule of thumb to keep in mind is the closer to the farm, the better. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, and healthy proteins like chicken, fish, and nuts are best choices. Red meats and other fatty and sugary foods should be consumed in moderation as well as high-starch foods like rice, potatoes and bread. Healthy Heart Tip #2: Clear the Air Smoking is a well-known cause of many health challenges. By quitting smoking, you not only do your heart a favor, you reduce your chances of contracting cancer by up to 90%. Since 85% of lung cancer cases can be traced back to smoking, dropping the tobacco habit can pay big benefits in the long run. Talk to your doctor about smoking cessation techniques and aids. Healthy Heart Tip #3: Fitness The old joke goes, I’m into fitness: fittin’ this whole pizza in my mouth. The downside of a lack of activity is an unhealthy heart. Regular aerobic activity not only provides an energy and mood boost, it’s also vital to keeping your heart strong. Regular exercise and aiming for a healthy weight can have big benefits when it comes to...

Signs of a Blood Clot That You Should Know

Blood clots are normally useful. Clotting stops blood from leaking out when you receive a cut or injury. When a clot happens in a vein, however, it can pose a serious health risk. Although it’s impossible to tell if a blood clot has formed without a medical examination, knowing the signs can help you decide if you need immediate medical intervention. Blood Clot Signs in the Limbs Clots happen most commonly in the lower leg. If you experience swelling of the limb, especially if it’s accompanied by a sharp, stabbing pain, you may have a clot. You may also notice a reddening of the skin in the affected area. Varicose veins are sometimes associated with clots as well, so be sure to talk to your doctor about them. Blood Clot Signs in the Chest Area- Heart and Lungs A blood clot in the chest area is more worrying. While a stationary clot in a limb is fairly harmless, a clot in the heart or lungs can stop or slow blood flow to critical areas, causing serious damage. A clot in the chest area may cause sudden, sharp or stabbing pain. A hacking cough, and even coughing up blood or mucus may indicate a clot. If you suffer sudden, sharp pain, especially when inhaling, a dry, hacking cough, or suspect you may have a blood clot in the chest area, seek medical help immediately. Blood Clot Signs in the Head Fever, sweating, extreme fatigue, or a sudden, sharp pain in the head may accompany a blood clot in the brain. Any of these symptoms should be assessed immediately by a...