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Heart Disease Health Center

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6 Heart Health Tips From a Top Cardiologist

By Tony Rehagen
WebMD Feature

As you go about your day, you probably don’t think much about the organ that makes it all possible: your heart. It pumps for you all day long, and it’s your hardest working muscle.

You can help keep it going for years to come with these six must-do steps. “It’s some of the best medicine,” says Atlanta cardiologist David E. Montgomery, MD.

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It’s dramatic when someone has a heart attack on television or in the movies. But in real life, symptoms can be more subtle and difficult to identify. And because heart attack and angina symptoms are so similar, it may be hard to tell what's going on. But knowing the differences -- and the reasons behind them -- can result in seeking treatment sooner, and living longer.

Read the Is It a Heart Attack or Angina? article > >

1. Exercise.

Does this mean we all have to start training for the Ironman? No. You can do anything physical that keeps your heart rate up for 30 minutes -- or 20 minutes if it’s high intensity -- 5 days a week.

Want ideas? Running. Biking. Rowing. In other words, “most things that end with –ing and that you can keep up for a few minutes,” Montgomery says.

If you’re not active now, check in with your doctor first to see if there are any limits on what you can do. 

2. Stay active throughout the day.

A workout at the gym is a good start. But what’s going on for the rest of your day?

“If you’re sitting at a desk all day -- even if you hit the elliptical [cardio machine] that morning -- you’re still at risk for heart disease,” Montgomery says.

When you’re at work, build in breaks from being still. Get up and get your limbs moving and your blood pumping.

Montgomery suggests you take a conference call and answer emails while standing at your desk. You can also swap your regular chair with a balance ball, which keeps your core muscles engaged as you work.

If you check social media on your phone when you’re on a break, get up and pace around the room at the same time. You get the idea: Keep moving.

3. Go old-school with food.

“The way to eat optimally for your heart hasn’t changed in hundreds of years,” Montgomery says.  The tried-and-true classics are still your best choices:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains, like brown rice and other unrefined carbs
  • Nuts, seeds, and legumes, such as chickpeas and lima beans

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