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This site is for US residents 18 years of age or older.

Hearts and Minds on Health: Tips for Your Well-being

Seemingly small lifestyle changes may help improve your overall health and decrease your risk of developing certain cardiovascular diseases

Start with decreasing your sodium intake

  • People with narcolepsy have a 2x greater risk for heart diseases.* Sodium intake also increases these risks. Limiting your sodium intake is something you can do day-to-day that can help make a long-term impact

How much sodium is too much sodium?

  • The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends adults consume no more than 2300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day, with an ideal limit of no more than 1500 mg per day for most adults. Yet, if you're like most Americans, you might be consuming closer to 50% more, or 3400 mg

Ways to cut back on sodium

  • Look for foods that are low in sodium and compare different brands to find the lowest sodium options
  • Cook at home so you can control the amount of salt used in your food

Besides getting sodium from what you eat and drink, prescription and over-the-counter medications can also contain sodium.

Talk to your doctor about how you can reduce your sodium consumption, including that from your medications. Have a conversation with your doctor about how to manage your narcolepsy.


Make heart-healthy foods a priority on your plate

Plant-based diets—i.e. those with limited amounts of animal products—have been associated with lower risk of cardiovascular diseases in the general population.

Eat plenty of:
  • Whole grains
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Nuts and legumes
  • Dietary fiber
  • High unsaturated fat
Limit eating:
  • Meats
  • Saturated fat
  • Processed meats
  • Added sugars
  • Sodium

At The Heart of Narcolepsy Video Series: Nutrition and Narcolepsy

Host Brittany Joy talks to nutritionist Jillian Kubala about healthy changes you can make to reduce sodium intake and may better promote heart health.

Don't smoke!

When it comes to the effects of smoking, most people think of the lungs first. But smoking is also a key risk factor for cardiovascular disease. So if you don't smoke, don't start. If you already smoke, make a plan to quit. Your heart (and lungs) will thank you!

Keep it movin'

A sedentary lifestyle—being seated or inactive for long periods of time—is a common risk factor for cardiovascular disease, including stroke. Physical activity has been shown to help prevent cardiovascular disease among the general population and may improve outcomes for people who already have cardiovascular disease. Here's how you can get started:

  • Choose an activity that you enjoy and will be more likely to stick to
  • Start small and set realistic goals for yourself
  • Plan your physical activity in advance and make it a part of your daily routine

Keep your mental health in mind

Chronic conditions, like narcolepsy, can affect a person's mental and physical health, including mood, emotional health, and overall functioning.

People with narcolepsy are more likely to have mental health conditions than people without narcolepsy, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Other psychiatric disorders (e.g., bipolar disorders and agoraphobia)

Narcolepsy involves symptoms that can impact your day-to-day life. They may even be misunderstood by others, leading to negative effects on your personal and social relationships. That's why it's important to have open and honest conversations with family, friends, and other important people in your life to let them know when you need support.


At The Heart of Narcolepsy Video Series: Sleep and Overall Health

Host Brittany Joy talks to sleep specialist Dr. Logan Schneider about the importance of healthy sleep habits in narcolepsy and how sleep may be tied to overall health, including heart health.
And most importantly, be kind to yourself—you are rising to the challenge of managing your health and your well-being, all while living with narcolepsy. Always remember: you got this.
READ NEXT: Treatment Options

*Odds ratio. An interview-based study compared 320 people with narcolepsy vs 1464 people without narcolepsy.