As the new year approaches, we all make resolutions. Many of us also include health into these resolutions. Since your heart works hard for you nonstop for your whole life, a little TLC will go a long way to help you live longer and healthier. Here are a few possible resolutions.

1. Control blood pressure — Simply speaking, blood pressure is the pressure inside the major blood vessels in your body. When the pressure inside these vessels are elevated, it can cause damage to the major organs such as the heart resulting in a heart attack or heart failure, the brain resulting in strokes, kidneys resulting in kidney damage and failure, the eyes resulting in visual problems, etc.

To control blood pressure, dietary restriction of salt intake along with alcohol, and weight loss are key. If your physician informed you that you do have high blood pressure and you need to be on medications, compliance with medications is of equal importance. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains, as well as management of stress and an exercise regimen, will also help control blood pressures.

2. Stop smoking — Smoking and secondhand smoke are bad for year heart. While E-cigarettes are very popular, they do contain nicotine and should also not be continued long-term.

3. Managing stress —Stress plays an important role in your heart health. Managing stress with meditation, yoga or exercise will go a long way to better your heart health.

4. Diabetes management — Early diagnosis and management of diabetes will prevent you from having complications of the disease process. Excess glucose in the bloodstream will result in accelerated atherosclerosis resulting in heart attacks, or strokes. If you are diagnosed with diabetes, medications meant to decrease the blood sugar level place a key role in the prevention of such complications.

5. Regular exercise — The American Heart Association now recommends from 30 to 45 minutes of aerobic exercise at least three times a week to better your heart health. Activities such as brisk walking, jogging, swimming or cycling are all examples of aerobic exercises. Such regular exercise can also help control and manage stress.

6. Heart-healthy diet — A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish (the so-called Mediterranean diet) will not only keep your heart healthy but also will help to control your weight. Many patients ask about various other forms of diets, I think the most important factor to bear in mind is to eat in “moderation.” I think the classic phrase “eat to live and not live to eat” is right on point.

7. Maintain a healthy weight — Your ideal body weight can easily be obtained from the Internet. Many of the steps above including regular exercise and eating a healthy diet will help to maintain a healthy weight as well.

These are some of the suggestions that I have for possible resolutions to make you live healthier in the new year to come.

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