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How Integrative Medicine Improves Heart Health

Wednesday, July 25, 2018 9:19 AM

Managing your heart health seems pretty straightforward. Reduce salt intake, exercise 150 minutes a week, consume less bad fat and more omega-3s and get adequate sleep. Did you know that integrative medicine can help manage your heart health as well? The Integrative Therapists at NorthShore, weigh in that mindfulness can be good for your heart.


Stress can be harmful to the heart. What are some ways to manage stress?

Some great ways to manage stress are:

  • Listening to music 
  • Deep breathing 
  • Exercise
  • Yoga
  • Meditation 
  • Prayer 
  • Journaling 
  • Getting out in nature 
  • Drinking some warm tea 

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness means paying attention actively, non-judgmentally and purposefully in the present moment. 

If someone is new to mindfulness practice, how can one start?

One of the easiest ways is a two-to-five-minute breathing meditation. Here’s how:

  • Get comfortable sitting or standing 
  • Breathe in through your nose for the count of four, hold your breath for the count of four, then exhale through your mouth for the count of four

This is known as “triangle breathing” and it is recommended to practice daily. Once you’ve mastered the count of four, try to increase the time you practice each week. 

What can one do in a stressful situation to immediately manage stress?

Stress can take a toll on your heart. If you find yourself in a stressful situation, take a moment and:

  1. Take some deep, slow breaths 
  2. Put your hand to your heart 
  3. Imagine the breath is bringing positive, calming energy into your heart area 
  4. Imagine a loved one, pet or peaceful place and allow yourself to feel gratitude for a few moments  

What are other Integrative Medicine practices patients should try for stress management?

Taking control of your stress is one of the best things you can do to improve your overall health. Other integrative medicine practices you can look for are:

  • Consultation with Integrative MD 
  • Bodywork (massage therapy and shiatsu)
  • Acupuncture
  • Counseling 
  • Journaling or journaling classes
  • Nutritional counseling 
  • Meditation classes
  • Lifestyle classes 
  • Yoga classes