The best way to manage your risk for heart disease and stroke is to act now to improve your cardiovascular health. Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute and Baptist Health offer low- to no-cost programs and health screenings that focus on improving your health through exercise, nutrition and education.
Community health programs are held regularly at convenient locations throughout South Florida. These programs offer you the opportunity to exercise, assess your health and learn about healthier living.
Healthy lifestyle habits
Eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and living a smoke-free life are some of the most important steps you can take to improve your cardiovascular health.
Make healthy diet choices
A heart-healthy diet should be well-balanced and packed with fresh fruits and vegetables. It should also include:=
- Whole grains, such as brown rice and whole-wheat bread
- Lean meats, including poultry and fish
- Low-fat dairy
- Plant-based proteins, such as beans and nuts
A heart-healthy diet should avoid:
- Saturated fat and trans-fat, which are often found in fried food
- Processed foods, such as hot dogs or fast food
- High amounts of sodium, or salt
- Sugary foods
Also try to avoid large amounts of alcohol, which can raise your blood pressure and increase your risk for cardiovascular problems. Men should have no more than two alcoholic drinks a day and women should have no more than one alcoholic drink a day. A drink is equal to:
- 12 ounces of beer
- Five ounces of wine
- One-and-a-half ounces of liquor.
At Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute, you can also access Baptist Health’s comprehensive nutrition counseling. Our registered dietitians provide one-on-one sessions where they can develop a detailed meal plan based on your food preferences and nutritional needs.
Get regular exercise
Staying active can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by helping you lower your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar. Exercise can also help you keep at a healthy weight, which reduces stress on your heart and blood vessels.
In general, you should aim to spend two-and-a-half hours every week doing moderate-intensity exercise or an hour and 15 minutes per week doing vigorous exercise. You can also do a combination of both types of exercise.
Moderate exercise can include:
- A brisk walk
- Light gardening
- Doubles tennis
Vigorous exercise can include:
- Swimming laps
- Singles tennis
- Hiking uphill
- Heavy yardwork
Before starting any new workout routine, be sure to talk to your doctor about which exercises are safe for you.
Smoking cigarettes or other tobacco products, along with vaping, can significantly increase your risk for cardiovascular disease. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about smoking cessation resources in your community.
Baptist Health offers a smoking cessation program as well as support groups throughout the Miami area. You can also access in-person and virtual support programs through the Florida Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) Network.
Know your numbers
One of the most critical steps in preventing heart attack and stroke is checking your cholesterol and blood pressure. Understanding these numbers can help you and your doctors determine what steps you need to take, if any, to lower your risk for serious health problems.
Adults, age 20 and older, should have their cholesterol checked every four to six years. However, if you have a personal or family history of heart disease, your doctor may recommend more regular checks. If you have high cholesterol, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes or medicines to help lower your risk for heart attack and stroke.
Most adults should also have their blood pressure checked at least every two years. Your doctor may recommend more frequent checks if you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure. If that’s the case, your doctor may also prescribe medicine or lifestyle changes to help lower your blood pressure.
If you have diabetes, make sure you’re regularly checking your blood sugar levels and working with your care team to keep these numbers under control.
Partner with your healthcare team
At Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute, our goal is to help you live a longer, healthier life. That’s why our doctors work closely with every patient to make sure we’re taking all the necessary steps to lower your risk for heart attack and stroke.
It’s important to regularly discuss your treatments with your care team. If you have questions about your plan, don’t hesitate to bring them up with your team. You may even want to create a running list of questions that you can bring to your next appointment.
Be sure to also take your medicines exactly as directed and follow your doctor’s instructions for diet, exercise and lifestyle changes.
Find a heart-healthy class or event
Baptist Health South Florida offers a wide range of classes and events that can help you get on track to a more heart-healthy lifestyle. Whether you’re searching for a fitness program, weight-loss coaching or healthy cooking tutorials, we have a course for you. Check the schedule to learn more.