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Doctor urges progress over perfection when it comes to improving heart health


It doesn’t have to all or nothing when it comes to making lifestyle changes to improve your health.

That’s the message one Northwoods doctor is trying to get across during Heart Health Month.

Heart disease accounts for one in five deaths in the U.S.

High blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and smoking are key risk factors and nearly half of Americans have a least one of those factors.

And high blood pressure can be tricky since there’s lots of reason, including just being in a doctor’s office, that can temporarily raise it.

Dr. Amy Roberts is a family medicine physician at Peter Christensen Health Center in Lac du Flambeau.

“Blood pressure is so sneaky because ultimately feel the risks associated with high blood pressure are more long term risks, but people can feel fine. They can have no discernable symptoms for a long time,” said Roberts.

It’s one of the reason Roberts encourages regular health check-ins with your provider, not just when you’re feeling sick.

She knows it can be overwhelming with all the information out there on healthy choices.

“It’s hard to know where do I start? You know I know that my health is important. I know that I want to do things that can improve my health and that can maintain my health, but where do I even start? That’s a great place to start with one’s healthcare team,” said Roberts.

Stopping smoking, exercising more, eating healthily, and getting enough sleep all contribute to healthier bodies.

But Roberts stresses you don’t have to make all these lifestyle changes at once.

She urges progress over perfection.

“Sometimes it’s very easy to get into an all or nothing mindset where we feel like either, ‘I have to do everything perfectly, I’m going to eat nothing but raw veggies all the time,’ or ‘I’m just going to give up,’’’ said Roberts. “Some of that all or nothing mentality is understandable, but health care professionals are there to support people in making small steps to improve their health.”

Roberts recommends talking with your health care provider about small changes you can make for a healthier heart.

“There’s no shame especially with behavior change because it’s hard for all of us,” she said.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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