Top Five Tips for Keeping Your Heart Healthy

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Top Five Tips for Keeping Your Heart Healthy

Sneha Baxi SrivastavaContributors: Sneha Baxi Srivastava, PharmD, BCACP, CDCES, DipACLM, FADCES
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It’s widely known that being diagnosed with diabetes increases your risk for cardiovascular issues later in life. The more we know about how diabetes can affect the body, the more we understand that diabetes is about more than blood glucose - it’s also about all the organs in your body (as well as your mind and soul!).

This month, let's focus on the importance of heart health and how to keep your heart healthy. Challenges meeting recommended glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol goals can all cause irreversible damage to the heart's blood vessels and harm your heart. *Before trying any of these recommendations, especially the medications, talk to your healthcare team to see what things are right for your heart.*

  1. Statin Medication Therapy - Statins are a class of medications used to lower cholesterol and protect the heart. Many people with diabetes, even those with normal cholesterol levels, are recommended statin medications to help prevent heart attacks and strokes. Talk to your healthcare provider to see if you can benefit from statin therapy.
  2. Blood Pressure Management - Significantly elevated blood pressure over an extended period can strain your heart, even when doing simple daily tasks. That strain, in combination with other medical conditions, can greatly increase your risk of developing other heart problems. Keeping your blood pressure at goal is a good way to keep your heart healthy. Limit how much salt you eat, exercise, avoid nicotine products, eat healthy foods, and, if needed, take medications to lower blood pressure.
  3. Daily Exercise - One of the simplest ways to incorporate more heart-healthy activities is to add a little exercise into your daily routine. It doesn’t have to be a professional class or a long workout. Just starting at 10-15 minutes every day can have benefits. Then, add intensity and increase your heart rate for 30 minutes five times a week. But before starting anything, be sure to talk with your healthcare provider to make sure it’s safe for you to exercise.
  4. Heart-Healthy Food Choices - Incorporating heart-healthy food choices into your diet is another way to make small changes that can have a major impact in the long run. Watching the amount of salt you eat, adding a serving of greens or vegetables to your meals, and choosing whole grains are just a few ways to make more heart-healthy food choices.
  5. Diabetes Medications with Cardiovascular Safety Data - Some medications used to manage blood glucose have also been proven to have cardiovascular benefits and are recommended for some people with diabetes who may have heart failure, chronic kidney disease, certain types of cardiovascular conditions, or are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

This month is the perfect time to set goals to help incorporate heart-healthy choices into your daily routines. For example, “I will walk for at least 10 minutes every evening after dinner!” Small, gradual changes that lead to consistency can have a significant impact over a long period of time.

Sneha Baxi Srivastava, PharmD, BCACP, CDCES, DipACLM, FADCES, is passionate about empowering people with knowledge and skills to prevent and treat chronic conditions, especially diabetes, and about lifelong learning. She is an Associate Professor and Associate Director of Skills Education at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science College of Pharmacy and a Clinical Pharmacist at Lake County Health Department. Dr. Srivastava earned her Doctor of Pharmacy degree at Rutgers University Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy and completed two years of postgraduate training in pharmacy practice and primary care at the University of Illinois College of Pharmacy. Dr. Srivastava is board certified in ambulatory care and lifestyle medicine and is a certified diabetes care and education specialist.

Dr. Srivastava collaborated with Brenly M. Sánchez Cintrón, PharmD, on the content of this article. Ms. Sánchez Cintrón earned her Doctor of Pharmacy degree at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Jerry H. Hodge School of Pharmacy in Abilene, TX. She is currently one of the PGY1 community-based pharmacy residents at NorthShore UniversityHealthSystem. She is passionate about helping patients and using her skills to better her community. She hopes to be able to work as an ambulatory care pharmacist and help underserved populations.