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5 Ways to Improve Your Heart Health: Straight from the Doctor

As your destination for fitness, health and wellness, Woodside prides itself of offering first-class products and services – or in this case – access to health experts who can provide insight and advice for leading healthier, happier lifestyles. As one such expert, Dr. Heybrock, owner and family physician at Health Studio KC provides us with a look at the factors that play a role in heart health. He explains below, how it’s all about balance.

Dr. Heybrock, family physician and owner of Health Studio KC

At Health Studio KC we believe your body has a design — a proper balance and tension in which it operates optimally. As the engine of your health, your heart beats an average of 115,000 times a day, pumping 200 gallons of blood through your arteries and veins for an amazing 12,000 miles a day. This begs the question, “What can we do to keep the engine running smoothly?”

The make-up of our engine is a Balance of our genetics and our lifestyle — how we eat/sleep/hydrate/move/create. Family health history plays a large role in our heart health and is an important part of the conversation with your Physician — but equally important are the choices you are making today, because those choices are informing how your engine runs tomorrow, five, 20 and 50 years from now.

The Mayo Clinic’s first step in Eating a Heart Healthy diet has less to do with the what and more to do with the how . . . as in how much you are eating. We have a fairly skewed satiety gauge in our culture. Learning to listen to our bodies when we eat and how much is enough takes effort in our fast-paced, eat-on-the-go lives. We can recalibrate that scale with new habits.

Inflammation is huge factor in plaque building and Cardiovascular (CV) risk. Deep REM Sleep is when our bodies not only rest, but restore by clearing out the inflammation and resetting. Our Western culture sleeps an average of six hours a night — an hour and a half less than 100 years ago. Numerous recent studies have shown seven to eight hours of sleep as optimal for decreased CV risk — with those getting six hours or less having almost double the risk. Lack of sleep leads to increased blood pressure and increased inflammation. How much sleep are you giving yourself? Do you wake rested?

All that fluid being pumped moves more smoothly and effectively when we are well Hydrated. Even small amounts of dehydration have been shown to increase plaque production, and chronically increase stress on the heart and the vessels leading to increased CV risk. What is proper hydration? What is the balance of my beverages? Does how I hydrate matter? These are all important questions to ask yourself, and your physician. For instance, what I like to recommend is: for every one or two eight-ounce caffeinated beverage, drink four to six eight-ounce glasses of water. When exercising, drink 16-20 ounces two hours prior to your workout, eight ounces 20 minutes prior, a variable amount during exercise (depending on the workout), and then eight ounces 30 minutes after.

The other way we empty our inflammation bucket is by how we MOVE. Just moving is not enough — the how matters. 30 minutes of “moderate intensity” activity most days of the week has been studied extensively and shown to be of benefit — so, what is “moderate intensity” and how do I get there? Exercise helps by increasing your good HDL Cholesterol (wait, there is a good cholesterol?), by modifying cholesterol particle sizes to lower risk types and by emptying that inflammation bucket. Just know, that simply getting 10,000 steps in is not the answer.

Finally, the relationships we foster and Create, the work we do, and the passions we pursue have a profound effect on our heart — physically and metaphorically — and are informed by the habits we build. In the noise of the culture, we too often are shaped, rather than actively shaping our lives. The why behind the balance of our heart matters. What type of goals do you have for your health heart balance, and who can partner with you to achieve those goals?

Woodside and Health Studio KC are working together to provide Health + Care designed for you in the upcoming Food of Thought event Feb 20th. Join myself and Woodside trainer, Lee Clark as we discuss the factors that play a role in shaping your heart health, and tips for leading a more heart-healthy lifestyle, from the things listed here, to fitness and food. We’ll provide learning and answer any questions you have in a panel discussion, while you enjoy a heart-healthy snack and beverage from the Woodside Kitchen.

To register for this free educational event, visit, and I look forward to seeing you on February 20th.

– Dr. Damon Heybrock, family physician and owner, Health Studio KC

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