PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, affecting men, women, and people of most ethnic groups. Healthy daily habits and lifestyle changes can protect your heart. Here are five tips that are good to follow at all stages of life.

1.) Mind Your Diet The benefits of healthy eating can add up over time and positively affect the heart. It's vital to consume a healthy, well-balanced diet filled with a variety of:

  • Proteins: Seafood, meat, poultry, beans and nuts. Meat and poultry choices should be lean or low-fat. Select seafood options that contain healthy fatty acids.
  • Fruits: Includes all fruits (e.g., fresh, frozen, canned, dried) or 100% fruit juice. Although, the amount of fruit consumed should come from whole fruit rather than juice.
  • Vegetables: Incorporate any vegetable (e.g., raw, cooked, frozen, canned, dried) or 100% vegetable juice.
  • Grains: Whole or refined grains. Whole-grain examples include oatmeal, brown rice and whole-wheat flour. Refined-grain examples are white flour, corn grits, white bread and white rice.
  • Dairy: Milk, yogurt and cheese. Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy milk or yogurt.

2.) Exercise Regularly

Exercise has many positive effects on heart health, like improving the ability to pull oxygen out of the blood, reducing stress hormones and lowering blood pressure. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day.

3.) Drink Water

When we are well-hydrated our heart pumps blood through the body more efficiently, which reduces strain on the heart. Drink 64 ounces (i.e., eight cups) of water per day. Additionally, limit your caffeine consumption.

4.) Get Enough Sleep

Getting the right amount of sleep can reduce stress and the risk of cardiovascular disease in the long run. Most people should sleep six to eight hours per night. If you have trouble falling asleep, try meditating or breathing techniques to reduce stress.

5.) Schedule Routine Visits with Your Primary Care Physician

It's important to schedule annual appointments with your primary care physician to check your physical well-being. Tell your doctor of any concerns and if heart problems run in your family. They may run lab work and refer a specialist, if needed.

Deon Vigilance, MD, is board-certified in Cardiothoracic Surgery by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery. He received his medical degree from Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine. Dr. Vigilance specializes in thoracic surgery.

To request an appointment, please call 215-752-3330 or click here.

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