5 Lifestyle Changes for Better Heart Health

Heart disease is one of the primary causes of death in the United States, claiming over 600,000 lives a year and affecting both men and women across ethnic groups. Although the statistics are alarming, making some lifestyle changes can help. If you work hard on adjusting eating habits, exercising more, and having better awareness of your health, you can change your heart health for the better.

Dr. Jason Leonard and the team at Colonial Family Practice in Columbia, South Carolina, provide multiple services to help our patients improve their heart health and live longer, healthier lives. Part of our philosophy is that sometimes the smallest changes you can make in your lifestyle can have the biggest impact on your heart health. 

What increases risk for heart disease? 

Are you at risk for heart disease? Some of the most common risk factors for poor heart health include:

  • Stress and high blood pressure
  • Obesity 
  • An unhealthy diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Smoking 

Make these swaps for better heart health

You can control a lot of these factors, and make simple swaps to improve your lifestyle. These changes could help to reduce your risk of heart disease. Just start:

Choosing healthier meats

You can have the best of both worlds: have a very heart healthy diet and still be a meat eater. Start out by considering what types of meat you cook and how you prepare them. You can choose leaner and lighter meats to keep your heart healthy. 

Red meats tend to be heavier, and have a higher fat content, so beef lovers can start by substituting turkey. Turkey can provide just as much taste in burgers, pasta dishes, meatloafs, and more.

Picking better cooking oils

Your choice of grease can also be a gamechanger. Even if the only substitution you make from this list is changing what you cook your foods in, you will still be making a massive difference for your heart. Cut out lards, butters, and shortenings when possible and switch them for grapeseed oil, olive oil, or even canola oil.

Getting out of the house

Do you love to Netflix binge every day? It’s easy to get wrapped up in television or electronics and hours have passed without as much as a stretch. If you switch out just 15 minutes a day of screen time for a walk or other low impact aerobic activity, your heart will thank you. 

Quitting smoking

The statistics on smoking and its adverse on heart health are staggering. According to the CDC, smokers are 70% more likely to develop heart disease than non smokers. To ease the difficulty of quitting there are a few things you can do, switching to gum can make it easier to quit. 

Tracking your blood pressure

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, can be a major factor in heart disease and a precursor to a heart attack. Knowing your blood pressure is easier than ever with blood pressure monitors at most pharmacies and grocery stores. Some doctors offices are able to provide at-risk patients with home blood pressure monitors at low cost, so start taking your BP when you can and keep a log so you can note spikes. 

Are you ready to get serious about your heart health? Our team can help you get a blood pressure baseline, improve your nutrition, plan a sensible exercise routine, and help you stop smoking. Contact our office today.


Jason Leonard, MD, FAAFP, DABOM Dr. Leonard has been practicing medicine in central South Carolina since 2007 and holds board certifications in both Family Medicine and Obesity Medicine. He was received numerous honors including being named as a Top 10 Family Medicine physician in South Carolina and serving on the South Carolina Medical Board as a expert reviewer for medical and ethical cases.

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