According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular diseases are our country’s number one killer and over 79 million adults are living with them. Poor lifestyle choices contribute to heart failure via the diseases that most often cause heart failure such as coronary artery disease, hypertension and dilated cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle).
A healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapons against cardivascular disease and building a stronger heart. By embracing the following healthy habits recommended by the American Heart Association, you can lower your risk for cardiovascular disease in the future – even if you have already had a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular event.
Eat a nutrient-rich diet
Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean meats. Cut back on sugar and salt, watch your portion sizes and limit your alcohol intake.
Maintain a healthy weight
Know the recommended weight for your height and age and the amount of daily calories needed to maintain that weight.
Get regular exercise
Aim to get 30 minutes of exercise daily. Exercise can help reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure or lower high blood pressure.
Sleep eight hours each night
Getting enough sleep each night helps lower your stress levels. Chronic stress can lead to inflammation, a weakened immune system and high blood pressure—all of which can contribute to heart disease.
If you smoke, quit. Smoking is the single most preventable cause of death in the U.S. Smokers are two to three times more likely to die from coronary heart disease than nonsmokers.
Know your numbers
Have your blood pressure checked regularly. High blood pressure causes the heart to work harder and weaken over time. Aim to have your blood pressure at or below 120/80mmHg.
Have regular check-ups with your doctor
Schedule regular visits with your doctor to manage or diagnose possible issues that can affect your heart.
Tools & Decision Points
- Heart Disease: Walking for a Healthy Heart
- Heart Disease: Eating a Heart-Healthy Diet
- Modify Recipes for a Heart-Healthy Diet
- Interactive Tool: Are You at Risk for a Heart Attack?
- Risks and Benefits of Medicines for Heart Failure