How to Build a Healthy Heart

Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the United States!


Did that catch your attention? Good, because it doesn't have to be that way. Building and maintaining a healthy heart is easier than you may think. Many risk factors contribute to heart disease. Some are impossible to control, like heredity, but other risks are controllable and in some cases, reversable. The good news is risks for heart disease can be reduced with a few lifestyle changes. Get started today and make the changes that will help you build a healthy heart.

Instructions

    • 1

      TAKE A TEST. Actually, take lots of tests. Check your cholesterol, including total cholesterol, HDL or "good" cholesterol, LSL or "bad" cholesterol and your triglycerides level. Also, have your blood pressure and blood glucose level checked. Ideally, you should have started these tests at 20 to establish your baseline. However, it's never too late to start. Don't put off going to the doctor because you don't want to hear bad news. Knowing your risk factors for heart disease is the first step to building a healthy heart.

    • 2

      STOP SMOKING. It isn't just your lungs that are affected by smoking. The risk for a heart attack doubles for adults under 50 who smoke. Smoking reduces blood flow to the heart, which can lead to heart attacks. Other risks include high blood pressure, blood clotting, lowering your good cholesterol (HDL) and make breathing more difficult. Stop smoking now and your body will start mending itself right away. A healthy heart is the benefit of reducing smoking-related.

    • 3

      GET MOVING. Daily exercise that raises the heart rate is necessary for a healthy heart. Running, bicycling, playing a game of basketball, even a brisk walk are good exercise choices. Experts say most adults need to exercise at a moderate intensity level for 30-minutes per day if they are at a normal weight. Add another 15 to 60 minutes if you need to loose weight.

    • 4

      KICK BACK AND RELAX. Chronic stress increases the risk of coronary heart disease by 68% in adults under 50. So, stopping to smell the roses isn't a quaint saying, it's a necessity for a healthy heart. Exercise is a great stress buster. Other great ways to relax include meditation, playing with the kids, walking the dog or enjoying time with friends. Make sure you take a little time for yourself everyday and your heart will thank you.

    • 5

      EAT FOR A HEALTHY HEART. Healthy eating habits equal a healthy heart. Reduce fats (especially trans fats), eat whole grains, lean meats, fish, and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Many experts say you can find the perfect healthy heart food plan in the Mediterranean diet.

    • 6

      WEIGH IN. Being overweight or obese is more than an appearance issue. It's bad for your heart. It is also a risk for a host of other conditions, like stroke, diabetes, and some cancers. Don't think diet, instead make a lifestyle change. The steps offered here not only help you build a healthy heart, but they can be good for your waistline, too.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check with your doctor before you start any plan to reduce your risk for heart disease. In addition to lifestyle changes, you may need monitoring and medications.
  • For you own good, learn the signs of a heart attack. Although men and women share in this equal opportunity disease, the symptoms are not always the same. Learn the facts.
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  • Photo Credit Sanja Gjenero

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