- Get moving - Five days a week, do 30 minutes of continuous brisk aerobic exercise. If that's too hard, move as much as you can throughout the day.
- Eat right - Have more veggies, fruits, legumes (e.g., peas, beans or lentils), whole grains (brown rice or oatmeal), lean animal protein (plain non-fat or low-fat Greek yogurt, lean beef) and fish. Have less saturated fats (meats, dairy products made from whole milk) and trans fats (crackers, cookies, cakes and other baked goods, microwave popcorn and other snack foods, frozen pizza, fast food, coffee creamer), refined carbs (white bread, pastries, pasta), and sweetened beverages.
- Maintain a healthy body weight - Ask your doctor what yours should be. Moving a lot and eating right can help you get there.
- Manage stress - More physical activity and less caffeine can help. So can keeping things in perspective: whatever's troubling you, at home or at work, isn't worth poor heart health. Good health, on the other hand, can help you better handle whatever's troubling you. Get enough sleep - Like Ben Franklin said, "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man or woman healthy, wealthy maybe and wise."
- Stop smoking - If you smoke, you know you have to stop, right? All kinds of things - e.g., nicotine aids, medication therapy, or classes -- can help. Ask your doctor what the best method for you is and get started ASAP.
- Know your risk factors and treat them - If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or and/or diabetes, or if these run in your family, get screened regularly. Lifestyle changes can help keep these under control but if necessary; your doctor will prescribe medications. Women with any of these issues during pregnancy should still continue to be evaluated regularly after pregnancy, even if the conditions have stopped.
- Ask your doctor if taking a low-dose aspirin daily is right for you - The American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association no longer recommend this for all adults as primary prevention. But it may still benefit certain patients with any of the above risk factors. Check with your doctor.
- Tell your doctor if you have a family history of heart problems - that's important information to share. It can help your doctor determine an appropriate course of preventive treatment.
For more information about maintaining a healthy heart, visit JeffersonHealth.org/Heart.