Fit After 50: Living a heart-healthy lifestyle is in your hands – Fairfield Daily Republic

Mark Villalon, M.D., is an interventional cardiologist with NorthBay Healthcare. (Courtesy photo)

Mark Villalon, M.D., Special to the Daily Republic

Cardiovascular disease affects millions of Americans, especially those over the age of 50. The term CVD encompasses a number of conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, heart failure, valve disease or arrhythmias.

If you are one of the lucky ones without CVD, preventing such disease is within your grasp. If you have been diagnosed with a form of CVD, there are still a multitude of ways to minimize your future risk of further health-related issues. Heart health is simply making lifestyle changes for the long term. At the center of heart health is feeling empowered about what features are important.

Diet: Taking a hard look at what you eat (and snack on) on a daily basis is important. Eating meals rich in fruit, vegetables and whole grains and low on refined sugars, processed foods and red meats are keys to great long-term health.

Exercise: While engaging in at least moderate activity for 30 minutes per day, five days a week is ideal, some of us do not have such a luxury with time. Instead, take small steps toward the goal. Take five-minute walks around your job at lunch time. Park in the spot farthest away from the entrance to your job. Being able to adapt to your surroundings is key.

Sleep: The magic number is 7. Not having at least seven hours of sleep at night leads to weight gain, higher blood pressure and ultimately poor heart health. Make sure you have your doctor screen you for a condition called sleep apnea.

Stress: Our world moves quickly and most of us can do little to change the stressors in our lives. We can, however, be mindful of the way we internally respond to stress. Being mindful of our levels of stress is a great first step. Exercise and daily meditation are just two ways that can help relieve the stress levels, which are linked to heart disease.

Numbers: Knowing some basic numbers is important to continue the quest to optimal heart health. These numbers include: weight, blood pressure and cholesterol. While there are several more numbers that your doctor will discuss with you, these are a great start.

Understanding that you have the power to prevent or minimize future risk of CVD is key to a heart-healthy lifestyle. Dont wait for your doctor to discuss the above with you. If you havent already, take charge and take control of the above tips. The power is in your hands.

Mark Villalon, M.D., is an interventional cardiologist with NorthBay Healthcare.

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Fit After 50: Living a heart-healthy lifestyle is in your hands - Fairfield Daily Republic

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