Posted: Monday, February 26, 2024

Take Care of Your Heart with Tech

You’ve heard that to improve heart health, it’s helpful to eat a heart-healthy diet, exercise, get plenty of water and rest. However, technology also can assist patients on a heart-healthy journey. Fitness trackers, like Fitbit® and Garmin®, monitor key metrics such as heart rate, steps taken, distance traveled and calories burned, providing real-time feedback and insights into physical activity levels. This information helps users maintain an active lifestyle and stay consistent with exercise routines, contributing to improved cardiovascular health. Nurse practitioner Briana Dahl from Blount Memorial Physicians Group – Cardiology notes that smartwatches and mobile cardiac devices have helped patients monitor heart health. “Lots of patients use smartwatches and mobile cardiac devices to check their heart rate and rhythm. I will review EKG tracings from these devices if my patients have concerns. The interpretations may not always be accurate, but often there is enough information from a device, combined with patients’ symptoms, for me to put them on a cardiac monitor in our office and assess from there,” Dahl said.

In addition to wearable devices, exercise apps offer a range of workout routines tailored to individual preferences and fitness goals, offering everything from high-intensity interval training (HIIT), yoga and cycling. These guided workouts are designed to enhance cardiovascular endurance, strength and flexibility. But you don’t have to use an app. Dahl says, “The best lifestyle modifications for cardiovascular health are to eat a proper diet and get at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. Patients do not necessarily need to join a gym. Simply putting on some comfortable sneakers and walking the neighborhood, joining a walking club, taking water aerobics classes, using resistance bands or a recumbent bike at home all can help increase your cardiovascular health. However, if you have any chest pain or shortness of breath that is out of proportion during exercise, let your provider know.”

A heart-healthy diet is a cornerstone of cardiovascular wellness, and meal planning tools can simplify the process of creating nutritious and balanced meals by tracking food intake, monitoring nutritional content and setting dietary goals. Users can make informed choices that support heart health by managing portion sizes, reducing sodium intake and increasing fiber consumption. “There are dozens of free meal tracking apps out there with full nutrition content on the foods we buy in the grocery store or eat in restaurants. Free apps like Lose It!® or MyFitnessPal® can track your calorie and carbohydrate intake. Most people are shocked to see how much their food choices are sabotaging their weight and overall health,” Dahl explained.

Stress is a significant contributor to heart disease, and incorporating mindfulness and stress management techniques into daily routines can have profound benefits for cardiovascular health. Mindfulness apps such as Headspace® or Calm® can offer guided meditation sessions, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques to reduce stress and promote mental well-being. Practicing mindfulness and alleviating stress can greatly impact heart health.

In addition to apps, telehealth services provide convenient access to health care professionals and resources from the comfort of home. Through telemedicine platforms, individuals can consult with healthcare providers to manage chronic conditions like hypertension or receive recommendations for preventing heart disease.

Leveraging technology can promote heart health and overall wellness by monitoring physical activity, tracking dietary habits, practicing mindfulness and accessing virtual health care services. These tools can help individuals to take proactive steps towards optimal heart health and well-being. With the power of technology at our fingertips, we can all work towards a healthier heart and lifestyle.

To make an appointment with Blount Memorial Physicians Group – Cardiology, call 865-238-6161.

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