Make Your Lifestyle Heart Healthy

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By: Vivian Silver, MS, Exercise Physiologist, Cardiac Rehabilitation, MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute, Long Beach Memorial

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women, killing nearly 600,000 people each year.

The MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Long Beach Memorial knows that taking the steps to living a heart healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk for heart disease.

Reduce Stress
Too much stress can lead to heart disease and high blood pressure if left unmanaged.
As stress increases, so do your risks.

  • Meditation can bring relaxation, which can decrease your heart rate and blood pressure and slow your breathing, therefore reducing stress.
  • Laughter is healthy. Among its benefits, laughing can help some symptoms of stress by stimulating circulation and aiding muscle relaxation.
  • Get enough rest and sleep. The body cannot effectively fight off stress without sufficient rest. Both your body and mind need time to relax.


  • Get moving and workout at least 30 minutes every day. Exercise helps improve heart health and can even reverse heart disease risk factors.
  • Flexibility in middle-age and older individuals is an indicator of flexible and elastic, healthy blood vessels. Arterial stiffness is a risk factor for heart disease. Stretching and improving flexibility can help lower that risk.


  • Become educated and aware of the foods you give your body. It is important to read and understand food labels to make heart healthy choices.
  • Eat more vegetables and fruits. Vegetables and fruits are good sources of vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber and are low in calories.
  • Eat whole grains. Whole grains help regulate blood pressure and improve heart health.
  • Limit salt intake. While salt is necessary, most people consume far too much on a regular basis. The recommended amount is 2,300 mg a day or 1,500 mg if you have a higher risk for developing heart disease.
  • Limit unhealthy fats and cholesterol. One simple way is to limit the amount of solid fat that you add to food when cooking, such as butter, margarine and shortening. Also, use low-fat substitutions when possible.

Quit Smoking

  • Smoking is a leading cause of coronary artery disease. About 20 percent of all deaths from heart disease in the U.S. are directly related to smoking.
  • Quitting can greatly reduce your risk of disease, including heart disease, heart attack and high blood pressure, as well as improve overall health.

In addition to making your lifestyle more heart healthy, it is important to make sure you have regular check-ups on your heart. The Center for Women’s Cardiac Health & Research, part of the MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Long Beach Memorial, offers private, personalized consultations with a cardiology nurse practitioner. The $55 heart screening includes a 12-lead electrocardiogram; cholesterol and blood sugar testing; blood pressure, weight and body mass index calculations; and a review of your eating habits and activity choices. Women and men can be screened. To schedule a screening, call (562) 933-2460.


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