What You Can Do To Strengthen Your Heart
Do you have cardiovascular disease? Are you taking steps to reduce your chance of a heart attack or stroke? Perhaps you have already had a major heart event and you are trying to prevent another one. Maybe you are hoping to prevent heart disease entirely by taking important steps and making smart choices now. Whatever your situation is, there are some important things you can do to strengthen your heart health. The following four considerations are important for individuals at any age, no matter where you are in your heart health journey:
- Move More – Exercise strengthens your heart – it is a muscle after all! Participate in regular physical activity to enhance your heart’s ability to pump blood to your lungs and throughout your body.
- Quit Smoking – Quitting can be very tough, but doing so can greatly reduce your chances of developing heart disease or having a major heart event such as a heart attack.
- Eat Nutritious Foods – Eat a heart-healthy diet. This includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole-grains, and protein!
- Try Not to Stress – Stress can contribute to a rise in blood pressure and an increased heart rate. Try to manage your stress through coping strategies, exercise, and seeking support from loved ones or health professionals.
More specifically, these are some things you can do at each stage of your life to help reduce your risk of heart disease or complications of a cardiovascular condition:
When you are in your 20’s: Find a doctor you can visit regularly, be active, and don’t smoke (also, avoid secondhand smoke).
When you are in your 30’s: Be sure you understand your family history of heart health and focus on the risk factors you can control. Keep your doctor in the loop about any heart problems you learn about in your family. Create heart-healthy habits for your whole family such as engaging in regular outdoor activities and eating a balanced diet. Work to manage your stress levels since long-term stress causes increased heart rate and blood pressure.
When you are in your 40’s: Find a workout buddy, eat a heart-healthy diet, and observe your metabolism. Have your blood sugar level checked, and don’t brush off snoring! If not treated, sleep apnea (which one in five adults has), can contribute to heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.
When you are in your 50’s: Continue to eat a heart-healthy diet. Learn about the symptoms/warning signs of a heart attack. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure or other conditions by this point, be sure you are following your treatment plan and making any lifestyle changes that can enhance your health and wellbeing (i.e. avoiding alcohol and quitting smoking).
When you are 60+: Ask for an “ankle-brachial index test” when you see your doctor. This test assesses the pulses in the feet and can help diagnose peripheral artery disease. Continue to eat a healthy diet. Gaining excess weight can increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Be sure you are aware of the signs of a heart attack and stroke. Learn about the warning signs here.
Do you have/know someone who has a cardiovascular condition? Are you/they looking for resources during COVID-19?
Start This Year Stronger Together! Access free, in-app health coaching and expert programs about cardiovascular disease. Connect with peer-to-peer support while helping improve the quality of care for people in Canada who are living with cardiovascular conditions. By joining our Stronger Together community, you’ll have virtual health support in the palm of your hand this winter while learning more about what you can do to improve your health and wellness. Follow along with daily discussions, Q&A with experts, peer insights and take part in a personalized program just for you! Spots are limited so join here now!
Healthy eating. (n.d.). Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. Retrieved January 8, 2021, from https://www.heartandstroke.ca/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/
How to Help Prevent Heart Disease At Any Age | American Heart Association. (n.d.). Retrieved January 8, 2021, from https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/how-to-help-prevent-heart-disease-at-any-age
Signs of a heart attack. (n.d.). Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. Retrieved January 8, 2021, from https://www.heartandstroke.ca/en/heart-disease/emergency-signs/
7 powerful ways you can strengthen your heart | UCI Health | Orange County, CA. (n.d.). Retrieved January 8, 2021, from https://www.ucihealth.org/blog/2017/02/how-to-strengthen-heart