You’re heard it many times before -- follow a healthy lifestyle for a healthy heart. Sounds simple, right? But it’s not always so easy to pull off. A heart healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk for heart disease by as much as 80%! But what is a “heart healthy lifestyle”? It’s a commitment to many habits in our daily lives centered on our activity, diets, mindset and awareness. There is no one “magic” thing. When lifestyle isn’t enough, talk with your doctor to set goals you can realistically achieve, such as losing weight or lowering your cholesterol or blood pressure levels. Sometimes, it takes medications that can be very helpful to optimizing your heart risk.
So, commit to making the many small lifestyle changes that make a healthy heart a snap! The key to success is to make small changes in many areas. No matter what you do, remember to take it day by day, and work to sustain your gains.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled 29 heart health tips. Knowledge is power! Read on to find out what you can do to keep your heart healthy. Only you can love your heart. So start today!
1. Make time for exercise: Exercising 30 to 60 minutes on most days will cut your heart risk in half.
2. Know your heart disease risk: Calculate your risk by plugging your numbers into an online calculator.
3. Never ignore your chest pain: Pain can be felt anywhere in the chest area, arms, your back and neck.
4. Check your blood pressure: Let the healthy blood pressure number be below 140/90. Both numbers matter!
5. No smoking: Don’t smoke, and ask your loved ones to quit.
6. Aspirin: Should you take aspirin? If you have heart disease, yes! If you don’t have heart disease, then maybe not! Ask your doctor.
7. Moderate exercise: How do you know whether you are exercising moderately? You should able to carry on a light conversation
8. Stress: Is it bad for your heart? Yes, sustained stress is, no matter the source. Learn to control your stress to prevent heart disease.
9. Second hand smoke is dangerous! Public smoking bans in the community have reduced heart attack risk by 20%.
10. Sex: Is your heart healthy enough for sex? Sex has a “heart workload” like climbing two flights of stairs.
11. Dark chocolate: Give your loved ones chocolate as a gift on Valentine’s day! Regular chocolate eaters have less heart and stroke risk!
12. Order wine with your dinner! Moderate intake is associated with lower heart risk. (Consume wisely!)
13. Red or white wine? Is one better for your heart? Wine, beer or spirits all show a similar relationship to lower heart risk.
14. The “Mediterranean diet” is the most heart healthy way to eat. Studies show this diet reduces heart attack risk up to 30%.
15. Mediterranean diet = veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, grains, herbs, spices, fish, seafood, olive oil, poultry, eggs, cheese, yogurt and wine.
16. Take your heart meds fully and faithfully! It’s the only way to get the full benefit of the treatments!
17. Stairs burn twice as many calories as walking. Regular stair climbing reduces your risk of premature death by 15%!
18. The quantified self. Keep moving! Steps per day: Very active >10,000, active >7500, sedentary <5000.
19. Fish eaters have less heart disease! Think about fish as a first choice when eating out- let somebody else do the cooking!
20. Did you know that people who are optimistic have less heart disease? See the bright side- it is truly good for your heart!
21. If you snore, tell your doctor. Snoring can be treated, and could signal risks for your blood pressure and heart rhythm.
22. Want to really know your risk of heart attack? Get a calcium scan of your heart. Accurate, safe, and costs less than dinner for 2!
23. Do you know CPR? Simple! Learn it here and double somebody’s chance of surviving cardiac arrest. http://www.cpr.heart.org
24. Ditch the soda and energy drinks. Please.
25. Coffee lover? For your heart’s sake, it is OK! (But, skip the donut!)
26. Like music? So does your heart! Music listening lowers your heart rate, and blood pressure!
27. Are statin cholesterol drugs safe? For most patients, yes! Unfortunately, over the counter supplements aren’t very helpful.
28. Heart attack or stroke symptoms? Don’t delay! Call 911 immediately. Minutes matter to save lives!
29. Taking vitamins or other supplements for heart disease risk? Be careful- few have little, if any, proven benefit.