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6 Heart Health Tips From Top Cardiologists

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There are lots of ways to keep your ticker in tip-top shape. Some of the more obvious ones are eating a heart-healthy diet, being active, maintaining a healthy weight, managing your cholesterol and blood pressure, and quitting smoking. But there are some less obvious – and even fun – things you can do to ward off heart disease. Here’s a summary of health-heart tips from some of Sharecare’s top cardiologists.

Is it time to see a cardiologist? We can help find one near you.

Get a quick snapshot of how healthy your heart is with this quiz.

Choose (Dark) Chocolate

2 / 7 Choose (Dark) Chocolate

Dark chocolate has flavonoids in it. Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that protect us from toxins that are created in our bodies … Dark chocolate helps dilate your blood vessels, can lower your blood pressure, makes your blood less sticky so you don’t clot as much and can lower the bad cholesterol. But the science has shown that it’s really hard dark chocolate. You don’t want to pour melted dark chocolate on a marshmallow. That’s defeating the purpose. A small amount of those little dark chocolate squares … that’s what’s good for you. 

-- Randy P. Martin, MD

Cardiology, Piedmont Heart Institute

Hit the Pavement

3 / 7 Hit the Pavement

What if I told you that the best type of exercise for the heart was free, easy to do, safe, and simple – would you try it? … All you need is a good pair of sneakers or walking shoes and a little bit of motivation to get out the door. You can get significant heart benefits by walking for as little as 30 minutes a day. And a study shows that by doing a total of two-and-a-half hours of moderate-intensity activity (such as brisk walking) every week, you can lower the risk of heart disease by 14%.  

-- Mehmet Oz, MD

Cardiology, NewYork Presbyterian Hospital

Get It On

4 / 7 Get It On

Having sex increases the immune system, decreases inflammation and helps us in maintaining healthy and loving relationships. If you’ve had heart disease or you’re trying to prevent heart disease, I will tell you that having regular sex with a loving partner is part of the deal.

-- Suzanne Steinbaum, DO

Cardiology 

Squash Stress

5 / 7 Squash Stress

Stress is really bad for your heart. It has direct toxic effects on our hearts because when we get stressed we release stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol. Those cause our heart rate to go up, our blood pressure to go up, our body becomes inflamed, inflammation goes up and our blood becomes thick and sticky. All of those things together cause a perfect storm for a heart attack. Stress also causes indirect problems. When we’re stressed we tend to exercise less, we tend to grab for comfort foods and overeat and we also try to self-medicate by drinking and smoking. So the direct and indirect effects are what really take a toll on our heart. 

-- John M. Kennedy, MD

Cardiology

Learn more about how stress affects your heart.

Focus on Flaxseed

6 / 7 Focus on Flaxseed

Flaxseed has been shown in clinical trials to affect low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and lipoprotein (a), both of which increase the risk for atherosclerotic diseases (i.e. coronary heart disease). It is also beneficial in reducing blood pressure and inflammation and does not adversely affect HDL (good cholesterol).

-- Mary Ann Mclaughlin, MD

Cardiology, The Mount Sinai Health System

Try this strawberry banana flaxseed smoothie recipe or these maple, walnut and flaxseed pancakes.

Know When to Worry

7 / 7 Know When to Worry

More men are going to present with classic chest pain symptoms. …The problem for women is they don’t always present with classic symptoms. What I found in women over 70 years old, their first feature is actually fatigue… then they start having shortness of breath. And then, usually women will start having some chest discomfort, but it may not be the classic pressure. There might be some neck pain, might be arm discomfort, it may be more sharp pain. What you then ask for is the history of fatigue and shortness of breath. If that’s there, you know you have a female with a high likelihood of having coronary disease. 

-- Thomas Lambert, MD

Cardiology, MountainView Hospital 

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