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Heart Healthy Lifestyle Changes

MIAMI (CBS4) -- We all know eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and fiber, and limiting sugar, salt and red meat intake is good for our health but you may not know pets, dental visits and belly fat also have a lot to do with improving heart health.

Simply lifestyle habits can help or hinder good heart health.

For instance, according to cardiologist Dr. Joshua Lerned with Holy Cross Hospital, we know smoking can hurt your heart. But you may not know exposure to second hand smoke can significantly increase your risk of heart disease.

"Just being exposed to second hand smoke in the household with somebody else who smokes can increase your chances dramatically of having cardiovascular disease up to about 25% according to Centers for Disease Control statistics," said Dr. Lerned.

Experts suggest Americans know their blood pressure and cholesterol levels. But another important number is your pants size.

"Waist circumference is dramatically tied into ones development of high blood pressure, diabetes, high triglycerides, abnormal metabolic profile in general. When the weight is off around the middle we know that all of those risk factors can go away," according to Dr. Lerned.

Dropping stress levels is critical to a healthy heart and pets can help.

"Pets offer a soothing affect to many people," said Dr. Lerned. "And people with chronic diseases they often tend to cope better with their illnesses."

Exercise can also help with stress levels and they don't all have to be extremely intense workouts.

"In fact we know 130 minutes of dedicated moderate exercise per week tends to be the magic number that promotes the best cardiovascular help. That translates into about 30 minutes of walking a day."

Author and nutritionist Dr. Felicia Stoler said taking vitamins and supplements is great but choose ones that provide the most benefit.

"What's really cool about Lycomato is that it's an antioxidant and it helps to provide SPF of up to 4 from the inside out," said Dr. Stoler. "Synthiomine and it's made from L-Thianine, what that does it helps you to stay alert and clear, calm and focused."

Regular dentals visits twice a year are another way to show your heart some love because studies have shown gum disease is linked to cardiac disease.

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