Heart Healthy Choices
You have the power to beat heart disease
As cardiologists at Aurora BayCare Medical Center, we’re concerned with our patients’ hearts.
The best way to treat heart disease is to prevent it from happening in the first place. That’s why our first step in managing your cardiovascular health is helping you address your risk factors. At Aurora BayCare, you have access to the following prevention and heart health services:
- Consultation with a board-certified cardiologist
- Heart health education from nurse practitioners, dieticians, exercise specialists, and more
- Support to quit smoking
- Calcium scoring and other screening to identify early stages of heart disease
We believe in preventing heart disease whenever possible, and we know that you can make the biggest difference in your own heart health by targeting well-being in these three areas: diet, exercise, and community.
Take care of yourself, and you’ll take care of your heart.
Heart Healthy Diet
A heart healthy diet lowers your risk for heart disease and stroke. To do the best for your heart, choose more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, nuts, and beans. Watch portion size and do your best to cut back on processed foods and added sugar.
- Eat more plants, fruits, vegetables and nuts.
- Eat less food. Eat smaller portions.
- Eat more whole food and less processed food.
Exercise for Heart Health
Your heart is a muscle and it gets stronger when you exercise. It’s never too late to get active. Aerobic activity improves heart and lung fitness and reduces many of the risk factors for heart disease. If you can’t work out all at once, build more physical activity into your routine.
- Keep moving; every little bit counts.
- Try a mix of aerobic exercise, strength, flexibility and balance workouts.
- Consider cardiac rehab, a medically supervised program to help heart patients exercise safely.
Being physically active is a big contributor toward heart health. It’s one of the best tools you have for strengthening your heart muscle, maintaining a healthy weight, and protecting against damage and inflammation in your arteries.
If you have heart disease or your doctor has advised against strenuous exercise, you may need to monitor your heart rate during workouts to avoid pushing your heart too hard. Talk to your care team about heart rate monitors and how to exercise safely.
Community and Your Heart
More and more studies show that friendships are good for your heart. Researchers believe that strong social connections and regular interaction with friends and family can influence heart health by lowering our stress levels, giving us a sense of purpose, and helping us stay motivated to take care of ourselves.
- Make time for friends and family.
- Include people with healthy lifestyles in your social circle.
- Find a sense of purpose through volunteerism or supporting your friends, family, and neighbors.
Living with Heart DiseaseEven if you’ve already been diagnosed with heart disease, you can take simple steps to improve your health. Set yourself up for success by setting realistic goals and only making one change at a time. For example, you might quit smoking before you change your diet.
If you need help, talk to your cardiologist. Aurora BayCare also has a integrative lifestyle medicine doctor who specializes in helping people make healthy eating choices and other lifestyle changes. Or, make an appointment with our medical fitness team to jumpstart your heart health.
Typically, we can begin to detect the early signs of heart disease when people are in their 30s and 40s. We offer non-invasive diagnostic tests, including calcium score screenings, to detect potential heart problems and help you address them early.
A calcium scoring test is a quick, simple CT scan that measures calcified plaque in the coronary arteries. Your calcium score is the strongest predictor of your risk for heart attack. Discuss your score with your primary care provider. You don’t need a referral or a doctor’s order to have this screening. Insurance doesn’t cover the screening, but the cost is modest.