Unhealthy habits to shed

Sometimes starting a new healthy habit can seem overwhelming. That is why cardiologists at Baylor College of Medicine say, instead, try cutting back on the unhealthy ones.


As a cardiologist, Dr. Tyler Moran, assistant professor of medicine – cardiology, said he would never smoke. Smoking increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and some cancers.

“It is difficult to quit smoking but there are doctors who can help, and seeking support from family or friends is also a good motivator,” Moran said. “I’ve seen a number of people who are able to quit but unfortunately it is after they end up in the hospital, so we are here to try to prevent that before it happens.”

Learn more about how to quit smoking.

Sedentary lifestyle

Dr. Ronald Maag, medical director at Baylor Heart Clinic, said try to add more movement into your day. It could be trying a new exercise or something as simple as taking walking breaks throughout the day, taking the stairs or even parking further away in the parking lot.

“I would cut back on a sedentary lifestyle. A lot of us have jobs where we sit in front of computers and do not move throughout the day, so it is important to add physical activity into our daily routine,” he said. “I tell my patients they need to walk about 30 minutes each day, but they don’t have to do that all at the same time.”

Read about how to use childhood games to inspire your workouts.

Poor sleep hygiene

Another habit to shed is poor sleep hygiene, which refers to quality of sleep. The goal is to get good, restful and uninterrupted sleep.

“It is important to have good night sleep because it helps us recover from the stress and breakdowns in the body from the day before,” Dr. Mahboob Alam, professor of medicine -cardiology. “Lack of sleep over time results in chronic health issues including hypertension which can contribute to heart disease.”

Lack of sleep also can affect depression and anxiety. Learn more about how to improve your sleep.

Cutting back on red meat

Red meat and processed meat are associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, as well as many other health issues due to the high-fat content. Limiting how much you eat and replacing it with lean meats such as chicken are ways to improve your heart health.

“My advice is to think of it like a treat, save it for special occasions,” said Dr. Enrique Garcia-Sayan, associate professor of medicine-cardiology. “Adding other healthy foods to replace the red and processed meats will also have benefits to your heart and overall health.”

Learn how to find healthy and convenient foods.

For more information on heart health, visit Baylor College of Medicine Heart Month page.

Learn more about cardiovascular care from Baylor Heart Clinic and Hall-Garcia Cardiology Associates at Baylor Medicine. 

By Gracie Gutierrez

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