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Healthy Heart Tips

photo of a stethoscope | Dr. Zack CharkawiFebruary is American Heart Month, and with heart disease as the leading cause of death for both men and women, heart health is vitally important for everyone. For some, living a heart healthy lifestyle may be easy to implement, but for others, changing diet, exercise, and daily habits may read like a few easy steps but prove to be more difficult in practice.

Whenever you hear about heart health, changes to your diet and exercise are always highlighted. This is because a healthy diet and regular exercise can vastly improve your health, help manage stress, and fight obesity. When it comes to the heart, dietary changes should include eating:

• Fruits and vegetables of all varieties
• Lean protein (fish, chicken, beans)
• Whole grains
• Low fat dairy
• Fiber
• Salt substitutes or spices
• Antioxidants
• Essential fatty acids

In addition, a heart healthy diet should include small portions and avoid processed foods that are often high in sodium.

As for exercise, most doctors recommend exercising for at least 30 minutes, five times a week. The best way to start exercising is by setting small obtainable goals that can become part of your daily routine: take a walk around the neighborhood, use a push mower, or engage in some heavy cleaning just to name a few.

Diet and exercise are great ways to improve your heart health, but quitting smoking today (including electronic cigarettes) will greatly decrease your chance of heart disease. Moreover, alcohol consumption should be done in moderation.

In addition to these lifestyle changes, it is important to go for an annual screening and physical. Heart conditions are screened through simple tests, and unless you are suffering from a complication, can be done by your family practitioner. Furthermore, knowing your family history and sharing that information within your family and with your practitioner can greatly improve your diagnosis and treatment.

Research shows that regardless of your genetics, following the above lifestyle tips can improve and help manage your heart health. However, if you are experiencing any difficulties or are unable to implement these changes on your own, contact Johns Creek Family Medicine or your family physician.

Johns Creek Family Medicine specializes in preventing, treating, and diagnosing conditions. Dr. Charkawi believes in whole patient care treating physical and mental health by establishing an open dialogue. Through listening and availability, Dr. Charkawi guides patients on a path to healthier living.

Johns Creek Family Medicine is located in Johns Creek directly across from Emory Johns Creek Hospital on Hospital Parkway near the Peachtree Parkway (Highway 141) and McGinnis Ferry Road intersections. Dr. Charkawi is accepting new patients from South Forsyth, Gwinnett and North Fulton counties as well as Suwanee, Dawsonville, Duluth, Canton, Cumming, Alpharetta, Roswell, and other surrounding North Atlanta areas.

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