Skip to Main Content

Helpful Hints to a Healthy Heart and Lifestyle

Posted in:

While the month of February brings about images of red paper hearts and unending love, St. Luke’s Health Memorial Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgeon David Ladden, M.D. wants East Texans – especially women – to focus on their own heart during national Heart Month.

Dr. Ladden shared many helpful hints to a healthy heart and lifestyle at the February Women’s Power Lunches at St. Luke’s Health Memorial in Lufkin and Livingston.

Women are at a particularly high risk for this devastating disease. In fact, more than 8 million women are currently living with heart disease, and last year alone, 267,000 women died from heart disease, according to the American Heart Association.

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in American men and women. While, family history dictates what diseases a person is predisposed to there are simple precautions that can be taken to reduce risk factors for heart disease.

“Heart disease is truly an epidemic, but 80 percent of cases in this country can be reduced and are preventable if we are smart,” Ladden said. “We have so many bad habits, but it’s never too late to modify your lifestyle.”

Dr. Ladden’s tips to a healthy heart include:

  • Make your home smoke free.
  • You are what you eat.
    • Improve your diet with more fruits, vegetables, lean protein, legumes and whole grain
    • Limit foods with sodium, saturated fat and transfat
    • Increase fiber intake
    • Decrease your cholesterol level.
  • Maintain an ideal body weight.
  • Control your blood sugar.
  • Monitor and control your blood pressure.
  • Limit stress with exercise, yoga and stretching.

Physical activity and a healthy diet decrease the risk for obesity, another common risk factor for heart disease. Dr. Ladden encourages incorporating these foods into a regular diet: oatmeal, walnuts, salmon, oranges, salads, yogurt, and whole wheat pasta.

The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of exercise five times a week, but Dr. Ladden said the key to a healthy heart is making exercise part of your everyday routine.

“I tell my patients, ‘Brush your teeth in the morning, get a shower and go for a walk,’” Ladden said. “When you walk or garden or develop other activities, you lower your stress, lower your blood pressure and decrease your cholesterol. It’s such a win-win situation.”

  • Talk to your doctor about possible hormone replacement therapy.
  • Drink one glass of red wine daily.
  • Get your flu shot.

Dr. Ladden said a recent Polish study showed that flu vaccinations can be cardio protective.

“Not only is it smart to get a flu vaccine every year in October or November, but it may reduce the risk of heart disease,” Dr. Ladden said.

  • Soak up some rays.

Ten to 15 minutes of sun exposure increases Vitamin D production, which has been linked to a decrease in Type-2 diabetes and heart disease.

  • Don’t neglect yourself.

Women often times forget about themselves when caring for others. It’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of heart disease and seek medical attention as soon as possible.    

For more information about cardiovascular health or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ladden, call 936-631-6777 or visit

Find a Doctor

Looking for a doctor? Perform a quick search by name or browse by specialty.