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Heart-Healthy Diet and Exercise

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Exercise for a Healthy Heart

If you have heart disease, becoming more active is one of the best things you can do for yourself. It helps with your blood pressure and weight, and it makes your heart stronger.

Getting even as little as 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days helps. You can do anything that makes your heart beat a little faster, whether it's walking, water aerobics, washing your car, or something else.

Before you start, check with your doctor to see if there are activities that aren't appropriate for you. Then choose activities that you enjoy and that you can work into your day.

You don't have to do the same thing every day. You might find it easier to stay motivated if you involve friends or family members in your activities.

What About Alcohol?

Is alcohol good or bad for you? That depends. Here's the bad side of alcohol use: Drinking too much alcohol can make heart disease worse. Alcohol can:

  • Raise your blood pressure
  • Increase your chances of stroke
  • Increase your risk of dying if you have a heart attack
  • Damage your heart muscle and lead to heart failure

On the other hand, moderate use of alcohol may have these two benefits:

  • Lower your blood pressure two to four points
  • Increase the levels of HDL good cholesterol in your blood

"Moderate" drinking means the following:

  • No more than two drinks per day for men
  • No more than one drink per day for women

If you don't drink now, health experts usually don't recommend that you start. Check with your doctor for advice that's specific to you. For some people, the potential problems from drinking may outweigh the possible advantages of moderate alcohol use.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on March 23, 2013
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