Road Map to a Healthy Heart

Let’s say life is a road trip. And, let’s say a healthy heart is one of the major destinations. Today, we have better directions than ever before—plus an improved GPS system.

While your risk may be low when you’re young, it’s your lifetime risk that the American Heart Association (AHA) wants you to consider. To keep you heading in the right direction, the AHA offers targeted heart disease prevention guidelines. Read the road signs and sample a few of the AHA recommendations:

  • Move it and lose it. Engaging in about 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity three or four times a week can improve your health and help lower your cholesterol, the AHA says. Walk around your neighborhood, use the stairs, ride a bike—it all adds up to lower heart risks.
  • Rev up on fish. Eat salmon, tuna or mackerel at least twice a week.
  • Slow down on fats, salt and alcohol. You can lower your LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol by cutting saturated fat to 5 or 6 percent of your daily calories, and trans fats to as low as possible.
  • Limit sodium to no more than one teaspoon per day, and alcohol to one drink.
  • Quit smoking. Ask your doctor about nicotine replacement, counseling and medication to help you get out of Nicotine Alley. Over time, you will gradually have the same risk for heart disease as a nonsmoker.
  • Pass on folic acid, hormone therapy and antioxidants as preventives. These won’t protect you from heart disease.

Talk with your doctor about your risk. Together you can decide how you can best take charge of your heart health.