Keepers of our own health “crystal ball,” are able to foretell any risks and potential issues before they arise. That’s why when they implore us to do something – or stop– it’s up to us to listen.

If your heart surgeon had three wishes

Sentara Heart Surgeon

Of all of the authority figures we encounter in our lives – our parents, teachers and bosses – there’s someone else we should readily abide by: our heart doctor. Why?

Because he or she has the expertise and the foresight to help us avoid potential heart health complications. Keepers of our own health “crystal ball,” they’re able to foretell any risks and potential issues before they arise. That’s why when they implore us to do something – or stop– it’s up to us to listen.

We asked heart doctors what they’d want to tell people if they had three wishes. Here’s what they said:

Stomp out that cigarette for good: We know, we know, smoking is addictive. But the potential health risks posed by smoking just aren’t worth the gamble. Heart attack, stroke, vascular issues, amputations – not to mention cancer – are the high stakes games we can’t afford to lose. Smoking causes over 480,000 deaths per year in the U.S. alone and greatly increases your risk of developing atherosclerosis. If you need some help quitting, contact your doctor. This heart doctor’s wish occupies the top slot for a reason. If you only take one measure to better your health, our doctors implore you – let it be this one.

Get some zzzz’s: Not getting enough shut-eye could affect your heart health more than you realize. Insufficient rest has been linked to cognitive issues, obesity and depression, not to mention heart attacks, arrhythmias, heart disease, hypertension, strokes and diabetes. For those reasons alone, your heart doctor recommends no less than seven to eight hours each night.

Kick processed foods to the curb: Notoriously high in sodium and added sugar, processed foods are no friend of yours. Especially for women, who are at higher risk of heart disease, closely monitoring your diet is the only way to mitigate these factors and get the odds back in your favor.