During Heart Month, Take Care of Your Heart

By Dr. Rachel Wilcinot of Avera Medical Group Sibley

Without a doubt, our hearts are one of the most complex and hardworking organs in our body. In just five minutes of time, it will pump five liters of blood around the body. That’s 2,000 gallons or more a day! During heart month, pay your heart back for all the work it does – don’t neglect activities that are good for your heart.

Get enough sleep. Easier said than done, right? When you add children or revolving work hours in the mix, sleeping well or long enough can feel impossible. However, good-quality sleep decreases the overall work of the heart as the blood pressure and heart rate decreases. Implement a healthy sleeping routine and schedule naps or bedtime like sleep is one of the most important things you’ll do all day. Your heart will thank you!

Incorporate heart-healthy foods in your diet. Maintaining weight is important for a multitude of factors for your health, including the risk of heart disease. A heart-healthy diet includes leafy greens, whole grains, healthy fats and oils and more. Learn to enjoy a wide variety of foods focused on freshness and nutritional value. How much you eat is another vital part of eating well for your heart. Be vigilant of your plate in terms of too much food, too much salt or unhealthy fats. If you have certain questions about protecting your heart via healthy eating, share your interest with your provider and receive a referral to speak with an Osceola Regional Health Center Registered Dietitian. Eating better does not have to mean your happy food-satisfied life is over.

Practice good dental hygiene. Wondering how your teeth and your heart could be correlated? Gum disease has been connected to increased risk of heart disease. Bacterial infection in your blood stream can affect the heart valves, so take care of those teeth. Brush at least twice a day for two minutes a time and see the dentist routinely.

Exercise regularly. Get moving! There are many benefits to regular exercise in terms of heart health. Working out strengthens your heart, improves your circulation and raises your oxygen levels. Sign up for a ORHC Wellness Center membership to have access to local workout equipment and hold yourself accountable to a workout routine. If you see me there sometime you can challenge me to an arm wrestling contest. ;)

Avoid smoking. There’s nothing that destroys a heart faster than smoking. One quarter of heart disease deaths each year can be traced directly to smoking. Smoking increases the formation of plaque in the blood vessels. If you are having trouble quitting smoking, speak with an Avera Medical Group Sibley physician for advice.

Heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide. However, becoming a statistic is mostly preventable by lifestyle changes and managing your risk factors. Schedule an appointment with an Avera Medical Group Sibley physician today by calling 712-754-3658 to discuss your heart’s healthy future.