These small lifestyle changes can help keep your heart healthy.
Heart disease remains the number one cause of death among both women and men in the United States. As treatments improve with each passing year, so does our knowledge of what we can do to prevent the disease.
Here are 3 steps you can take to help improve your heart health:
- Lose weight. One of the most important things you can do to improve your heart health is to lose weight. Even modest weight loss can improve a host of heart health indicators, from lowering blood pressure to reducing the risk of diabetes. Many doctors recommend following the Mediterranean diet as a way to improve heart health. It’s a high-fiber diet that encourages you to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, as well as other plant-based foods such as whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. It also focuses on replacing foods high in saturated fats with foods that have healthier fats. So for example, you can use olive oil instead of butter and eat fish instead of red meat.
- Exercise more. Ideally, you should do at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise 5 times a week, such as walking, riding a bike or swimming. But even if you can’t find a block of 30 minutes or more to exercise, remember that every little bit counts. So take a brisk 10-minute walk after lunch or choose the stairs instead of the elevator. Over the course of the day, those short bits of activity add up to a healthier heart.
- Know your numbers. Ask your doctor to test your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. These are numbers you should know and they should be checked on a regular basis. If your numbers are high, you can work to control them before you run into serious health issues. In some cases, lifestyle changes are enough to bring your numbers into the normal range or you may need medication to help control these heart health risk factors.
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Date Last Reviewed: March 3, 2021
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Thomas Metkus, MD