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The Cardiovascular Institute Offers Healthy Heart Tips

Hospital

Newburgh, NY – While nationally recognized for its treatment of cardiovascular disease, one of St. Luke's Cornwall Hospital's key focus areas is the prevention of heart-related health problems.

As part of its mission to provide community education, the Cardiovascular Institute at SLCH, and its Medical Director, Dr. Mehul Patel, is celebrating American Heart Month by sharing the following tips for a healthy heart.

Manage Blood Pressure

Hypertension or high blood pressure is extremely common, and if left untreated can affect the health of your heart.  High blood pressure means the heart is pumping harder to move blood through the body. This can weaken blood vessels and damage major organs.  In most people, high blood pressure can be controlled through diet, exercise, medication or a combination of all three.  Controlling your blood pressure decreases your chance of heart disease and stroke.

Manage Cholesterol levels

High blood cholesterol is a condition that greatly increases your chances of developing coronary heart disease and stroke.  Extra cholesterol in the blood settles on the inner walls of the arteries, narrowing them and allowing less blood to pass through them to the heart. Aim for total cholesterol below 200 mg/dL; LDL cholesterol below 130 mg/dL and HDL above 35 mg/dL.

Adults should have their cholesterol measured at least once every five years starting at age 20. You may need more frequent testing if your numbers aren't optimal or if you have other risk factors for heart disease

Control Blood Sugar

The presence of too much glucose in the blood can actually impair the normal functioning of the heart. More specifically, high blood glucose can keep blood vessels from dilating, obviously making it harder for blood and oxygen to flow to and from the heart. This affect can happen even with people who only have slightly high blood glucose levels, and do not struggle with diabetes.

If your fasting blood sugar level is below 100, you are in the healthy range.  If not, your results could indicate diabetes or pre-diabetes.  Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose (or blood sugar) that our bodies use for energy. Your body makes a hormone called insulin that acts like a carrier to take your food energy into your cells.

When your body stops making insulin, or the insulin stops doing its job, your energy supply and blood sugars are no longer stable and serious health problems like diabetes can result. Over time, high levels of blood sugar can damage your heart and blood vessels to the brain.

Manage Diet and Weight

A poor diet often leads to obesity and can be very damaging to the heart and vascular system.  Eating a balanced diet will help to keep your heart healthy.  Diets low in saturated fat and high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fiber are associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

Making only a few sensible changes in your diet can also help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. You can start by limiting your salt intake.

Get Plenty of Exercise

You can benefit from as little as 60 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity per week.  A sedentary lifestyle is bad for the entire cardiovascular system.  The more active you are the more you will benefit.  Walking alone can lower your blood pressure, lower your cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Don't Smoke

Of all the things that you can do for your health, stopping smoking is at the top of the list.  If you smoke you are likely to develop heart disease earlier than you otherwise might.  Smoking can raise your risk of heart and vascular diseases.  Talk with your doctor about programs and products that can help you quit smoking.  In addition, try to avoid second hand smoke.

Learn to Manage Stress

The effect of chronic stress on your mind, body, and heart will increase risk factors like high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The more you can do to find healthy ways of managing stress, the better your life and heart will be. Learning how to manage stress, relax and cope with problems can improve you physical health. 

About St. Luke's Cornwall Hospital

St. Luke's Cornwall Hospital (SLCH) is a not-for-profit community hospital with campuses in Newburgh and Cornwall, NY. The hospital is dedicated to serving the health care needs of the Hudson Valley and aspires to excellence in the delivery of compassionate and comprehensive health care services. SLCH offers comprehensive cardiac, stroke, cancer, orthopedic services and a full range of other clinical offerings.