Being good to your heart is more than just healthy eating and exercise. Heart health is a combination of lifestyle choices, family history and staying informed. Learn how you can stay on top of your health so you can prevent cardiovascular disease and provide a strong foundation for your heart. Here are simply heart healthy choices you and your family can make:
- Avoid smoking. Cigarette smoking is a major cause of coronary heart disease, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
- Exercise regularly. Regular physical activity substantially reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and helps you maintain a healthy weight, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Aim for 30 minutes a day.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity places you at risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. These factors heighten your risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Maintain a healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Total cholesterol should be less than 200, LDL less than 100, and HDL 40 or higher. Ideal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mmHg.
- Eat a healthy diet. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole-grain and high-fiber foods, fish, lean protein and fat-free or low-fat dairy products is key.
- Check in with your doctor. You should have your blood pressure checked regularly so you’ll know if your numbers are trending up before it significantly impacts your health.
- Know your family history. If you have cardiovascular disease that runs in your family, make sure you talk to your doctor about it. Here or she can recommend screenings and preventive measures to take when appropriate.
- Manage stress. Stress is more than mental health – it can have physical effects on your body too. Some people may react to stress by overeating, being physically inactive, drinking too much alcohol or losing sleep, all of which can have negative effects on your heart health. Identify what causes you stress and what makes you happy, and work towards achieving a positive balance.