Heart Healthy Tips
Recent research shows that making a few small lifestyle changes can make a big difference in your heart health.
- Quit Smoking! Cigarette smokers are two-to-three times more likely to die from coronary heart disease than nonsmokers. The health benefits start almost immediately, and within a few years of quitting your risk of stroke and coronary artery disease are similar to non-smokers.
- Know your numbers. Educate yourself about what your own body is telling you. Keep your total cholesterol below 200 and know the difference between “good” and “bad” cholesterol.
- HDL is the “good” cholesterol. This number should be more than 40 for men and more than 50 for women.
- LDL is the “bad” cholesterol. It should be less than 100 for both men and women. A number closer to 70 is even better.
- Keep your blood pressure at less than 120/80.
- Keep your Body Mass Index (BMI) under 25.
- Get moving! Physical inactivity is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and even 30 minutes of exercise 4-5 days a week can have an impact on your heart.
- Know the symptoms and know when to call 9-1-1. Men and women are not the same when it comes to heart attack warning signs. Know the signs and don’t wait if you think you are having a heart attack or stroke. Every second counts, and the sooner you seek medical attention, the better your chances at reducing the effects. Call 9-1-1 immediately if you experience any of the symptoms, such arm pain, shortness of breath, chest discomfort, nausea or vomiting.
- A heart healthy diet not only can help you fight the battle of the bulge, but can also keep your heart in shape. Certain changes to your diet – cutting down on fried foods, lowering your salt intake, eating more fruits and vegetables – can lower some patients’ dependence on cholesterol-lowering drugs.
- Just one extra hour of sleep a day may lower the risk of developing calcium deposits in your arteries.
- Too little vitamin D in your diet can put your heart at risk. You can add vitamin D to your diet through vitamin supplements, milk and orange juice, and fish oil.
Making even some changes to your lifestyle can have a big impact on your risk of cardiovascular disease, and you are never too young to start thinking about heart health. Teach your kids the importance of a healthy lifestyle, including diet and exercise. Make improving heart health a family affair, and work together to win the war against cardiovascular disease.
For more information on heart health, visit the American Heart Association.