Heart Health Basics

Your heart is the most important organ in your body. It pumps blood and oxygen to all parts of your body, and you need to take care of it if you want to stay healthy.

What is cholesterol?

One of the biggest challenges you face in keeping your heart healthy is cholesterol, but it’s not as simple as you think.

You might think cholesterol is bad, but your body needs it to work right. Cholesterol is a waxy substance that you get from food, but your body also makes a small amount on its own. It allows your body to make vitamin D and certain hormones, like estrogen in women and testosterone in men. It also helps with digestion.

However, there’s bad cholesterol you need to watch out for. Bad cholesterol can contribute to artery clogging plaque, while good cholesterol can help remove it. Unfortunately, there are no symptoms associated with high cholesterol, so it’s best to check your body with home kits or blood tests.

Under pressure

There’s a good reason almost every visit to the doctor include a blood pressure check: it’s important!

When you have high blood pressure, the force of the blood against the walls of your arteries is too high. With no treatment, high blood pressure can contribute to heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure. Much like cholesterol, there are often no symptoms. The only way to know your blood pressure is to get it tested.

How to help your heart

Both cholesterol and blood pressure level can be improved by a mixture of eating well and being active.

Fill your plate with fruits, fish, veggies, whole grains, skinless poultry and low fat dairy. Limit your intake of trans fat, salt and sugar.

Starting a good exercise regimen can also help drastically, though start out slowly if you haven’t been active in while. Eventually, you’ll want to get to have a solid aerobic exercise to do for 30 minutes per day, like running or cycling.