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How many of these 13 things do breast cancer survivors do to protect their heart?

Updated: Nov 5, 2019

This week, I was cleared from six months checkups from my cardiologist. I do not need to see him for two years! I started to visit my cardiologist as a precaution, as heart troubles could be side effects of the breast cancer drug I took, Adriamycin. When I first learned that, I thought, 'Oh, great. What next?' Facing cancer and then other potential side effects as big as heart troubles was daunting. However, my cardiologist said that if I was to develop those problems, they would have arisen by now. And, instead, he lauded me on what he calls my pristine blood pressure — 109/65 — and was happy I was so active and that I had changed my diet for health reasons.

I have been walking five to seven miles per day with my dog, running and I am eating a plant-based diet. At my last visit my cardiologist, on Sept. 19, 2018, my blood pressure was 117/83, so maybe the exercise is helping. The range for normal blood pressure is anything less than 120/80, according to the American Heart Association.

At the time of my last visit, I was also eating meat, though very little red meat. I ate mostly poultry. I was also eating very few leafy greens, which I eat every day now, and I ate lots more sugar and probably more sodium.

I also eat Greek yogurt every day, which can lower blood pressure. I also put pepitas, or pumpkin seeds, on my salads.

Want to be more heart-healthy? Here are some tips:

  • Get at least 150 minutes of exercise per week;

  • Eat five to nine servings of vegetables per day;

  • Of those vegetables, be sure to eat ones that are richly colored — green, red and orange. They are high in potassium and minerals which lower blood pressure;

  • Also, unsalted pumpkin, squash and sunflower seeds help to lower blood pressure. Put them into your diet to help you nutritionally;

  • Eat plain rice, pasta and potatoes;

  • Of course, consume fruits;

  • Eat low-fat and low-salt cereal foods as well as low-salt convenience foods if you eat on the run;

  • If you eat meat, avoid fatty ones. Skinless turkey and chicken are your best bet;

  • Avoid fried foods, salted snacks, fast food and deli meats; and

  • Also, skip whole milk dairy products and choose skim or 1 percent milk instead.

Source: American Heart Association and Cleveland Clinic

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