Beyond diet & exercise: Doing more for heart health

Heart-healthy, middle-aged couple embrace outdoors.

You know regular exercise and eating well can help keep your heart healthy. But what else can you do to keep it pumping strong? Here are a few other ways to care for your heart.

Check your blood pressure

Blood pressure measures how hard your heart has to work to pump blood throughout your body. High blood pressure means your heart is working overtime. That can lead to a higher risk of having a heart attack or a stroke. It can also affect other body parts, such as your kidneys, eyes and brain.1 There aren’t many obvious symptoms for high blood pressure. That’s why it is important to have regular checkups.

Watch your cholesterol

Your doctor will also tell you if you have high cholesterol. Total cholesterol is made up of HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. HDL cholesterol is the “good” kind of cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is known as the “bad” kind because it clogs your arteries.

High cholesterol occurs when you have more LDL than HDL. While high cholesterol can increase your risk of stroke and heart attack,2 there are plenty of ways to stay healthy. Talk to your doctor about improving your diet and adding exercise into your day.

Take your medications

It’s important to take your medications exactly as your doctor prescribed. It is even more important if you have a history of stroke or heart attack. Your medications can help lower your risk for another stroke or heart attack by:

  • Keeping your cholesterol low,
  • Your blood flowing smoothly, and
  • Preventing plaque buildup in your blood vessels.

Some tips to help you remember to take medications include using a pillbox or downloading a medication reminder app on your smartphone.

Always get a full night of sleep

Lack of sleep may put you at higher risk for high blood pressure and, as a result, heart disease and stroke.3 Set a schedule for seven to eight hours of sleep most nights. Then stick to it, even on the weekends.

Need more help?

Our ConnectiCare centers in Manchester and Waterbury offer free health and wellness classes. The Manchester center also has fitness classes, like Zumba and yoga. Check out our event schedule and sign up today!

Our care management staff also includes nurses, social workers and a certified diabetes educator. You can reach them at 1-800-390-3522 (TTY: 1-800-842-9710), 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. They are also available to meet with ConnectiCare members (by appointment only) at the Manchester ConnectiCare center. Call 1-877-523-6837 (prompt 2) to schedule an appointment.

1Mayo Clinic: High blood pressure (hypertension). https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/symptoms-causes/syc-20373410. Accessed on April 1, 2019.

2WebMD: Diseases Linked to High Cholesterol. https://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/guide/diseases-linked-high-cholesterol. Accessed on April 1, 2019.

3Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Does Sleep Affect Your Heart Health? https://www.cdc.gov/features/sleep-heart-health/index.html. Accessed on April 1, 2019.