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Falling for Heart Health

This time of year, you’re probably thinking about gathering around the TV with family and friends to watch football on Saturday afternoons. Before snacking on chips and pizza, spare a thought for your heart.

Autumn is a great time to begin living a heart-healthy lifestyle, and getting started is easier than you might think. Shailja V. Parikh, M.D., cardiologist who is board certified in cardiovascular disease, internal medicine and nuclear cardiology, on the medical staff at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano, identifies a few key steps to keep your heart pumping properly.

• Ensure your diet includes at least 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables per day, and limit your salt intake to fewer than 1,500 milligrams
per day. When cooking, make healthful substitutions, such as using egg whites instead of whole eggs.

• Get active -- but consult your physician first. The American Heart Association recommends engaging in at least 30 minutes of physical activity five days per week. Segment your activities into 10-minute increments if 30 minutes at once seems daunting, and pick things you enjoy, such as bicycling or swimming.

• Excess body weight is a risk factor for many serious health problems, including heart disease. Use a combination of healthy diet and exercise habits to achieve your optimal weight.

“Other important steps to take include monitoring your blood pressure and cholesterol, beginning at age 20. Your cholesterol should be
checked at least every five years, and the AHA recommends blood pressure screenings at least every two years for those with normal blood pressure,” Dr. Parikh says. “By following these tips, you give yourself a better chance of enjoying a long, healthy life.”

For tasty, heart-healthy recipe ideas, visit TexasHealth.org/Recipes.

Fall/Winter 2011

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