Keep Your Heart Healthy - MyHealthfinder (2023)

Health Conditions

Keep Your Heart Healthy - MyHealthfinder (1)

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The Basics

Overview

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Take steps today to lower your risk of heart disease.

To help prevent heart disease, you can:

  • Eat healthy
  • Get active
  • Stay at a healthy weight
  • Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke
  • Control your cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation
  • Manage stress

Am I at risk for heart disease?

Anyone can get heart disease, but you’re at higher risk if you:

  • Have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes
  • Smoke
  • Are overweight or have obesity 
  • Don't get enough physical activity
  • Don't eat a healthy diet 

Your age and family history also affect your risk for heart disease. Your risk is higher if: 

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  • You’re a woman over age 55
  • You’re a man over age 45
  • Your father or brother had heart disease before age 55
  • Your mother or sister had heart disease before age 65

But the good news is there's a lot you can do to prevent heart disease.

What Is Heart Disease?

When people talk about heart disease, they’re usually talking about coronary heart disease (CHD). It’s also sometimes called coronary artery disease (CAD). This is the most common type of heart disease.

When someone has CHD, the coronary arteries (tubes) that take blood to the heart are narrow or blocked. This happens when cholesterol and fatty material, called plaque, build up inside the arteries.

Several things can lead to plaque building up inside your arteries,including:

  • Too muchcholesterol in the blood
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Too much sugar in the blood because of diabetes

When plaque blocks an artery, it’s hard for blood to flow to the heart. A blocked artery can cause chest pain or a heart attack. Learn more about CHD.

Take Action

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Signs of a Heart Attack

What is a heart attack?

A heart attack happens when blood flow to the heart is suddenly blocked. Part of the heart may die if the person doesn’t get help quickly.

Some common signs and symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Pain or discomfort in the center or left side of the chest — or a feeling of pressure, squeezing, or fullness
  • Pain or discomfort in the upper body — like the arms, back, shoulders, neck, jaw, or upper stomach (above the belly button)
  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing (while resting or being active)
  • Feeling sick to your stomach or throwing up
  • Stomach ache or feeling like you have heartburn 
  • Feeling dizzy, light-headed, or unusually tired
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat

Not everyone who has a heart attack will have all the signs or symptoms. Learn more about the signs of a heart attack.

Don’t ignore changes in how you feel.

Symptomsof a heart attack often come on suddenly. But sometimes, they develop slowly — hours, days, or even weeks before a heart attack happens.

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Talk to your doctor if you feel unusually tired for several days, or if you develop any new health problems (like pain or trouble breathing). It's also important to talk to your doctor if existing health issues (like pain) are bothering you more than usual.

If you’ve had a heart attack in the past, it’s important to know that symptoms of a new heart attack might be different from your last one — so talk with your doctor if you have any concerns about how you feel. 

When to Call 911

Call 911 right away if you or someone else has signs of a heart attack.

Don’t ignore any signs or feel embarrassed to call for help. Acting fast can save a life — so call 911 even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack.

An ambulance is the best and safest way to get to the hospital. In an ambulance, EMTs (emergency medical technicians) can keep track of how you’re doing and start life-saving treatments right away.

People who call an ambulance often get treated faster at the hospital. And when you call 911, the operator can tell you what to do until the ambulance gets there.

Know Your Numbers

Take steps today to lower your risk for heart disease.

Control your cholesterol and blood pressure.

High cholesterol and high blood pressure can cause heart disease and heart attack. If your cholesterol or blood pressure numbers are high, you can take steps to lower them.

Get your cholesterol checked.

It’s important to get your cholesterol checked at least every 5 years. Some people will need to get it checked more or less often. Learn more about cholesterol testing.

Get your blood pressure checked.

Starting at age 18, get your blood pressure checked regularly. High blood pressure has no symptoms. Get the facts about blood pressure testing.

Use the MyHealthfinder tool to get personalized recommendations for screening tests and vaccines.

Talk with Your Doctor

Know your family’s health history.

Your family history affects your risk for heart disease. Use this family health history tool to keep track of your family’s health. Share the information with your doctor or nurse.

If you’re worried about a family member’s risk for heart disease, use these tips to start a conversation about heart health.

Ask your doctor about taking aspirin every day.

If you’re age 40 to 59, taking aspirin every day may lower your risk of heart attack and stroke — but doctors don’t recommend it for everyone. Talk with your doctor to find out if taking aspirin is the right choice for you.

Talk to your doctor about taking medicine to lower your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Experts recommend that some people ages 40 to 75 take medicines called statins if they’re at high risk for heart attack and stroke. Use these questions to talk with your doctor about statins.

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Food and Alcohol

Eat healthy.

Eating healthy can help lower your risk of heart disease. A heart-healthy diet includes foods that are low in saturated fat, added sugars, and sodium (salt). Learn more about eating healthy.

Heart-healthy items include high-fiber foods (whole grains, fruits, and vegetables) and certain fats (like the fats in olive oil and fish). Use this shopping list to find heart-healthy foods.

Check out these heart-healthy recipe collections:

Don’t forget to make healthy choices when you eat out. For example, ask for a side salad instead of chips or french fries. Get heart-healthy tips for dining out [PDF – 3 MB].

Drink alcohol only in moderation.

Drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk of heart disease. So if you choose to drink alcohol, drink only in moderation. That means 1 drink or less in a day for women and 2 drinks or less in a day for men.

Learn more about drinking alcohol only in moderation.

Physical Activity

Get active.

Getting regular physical activity can help prevent heart disease. Adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. This includes anything that gets your heart beating faster — like walking, dancing, and biking.

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If you’re just getting started, take it slow! Try fitting a quick walk into your day. Even 5 minutes has real health benefits — and you can build up to more activity over time. Learn more about getting active.

Stay at a healthy weight.

People who are overweight or have obesity are at an increased risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.

If you’re overweight or have obesity, losing 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can help lower your risk of heart disease. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, that would mean losing 10 to 20 pounds. Find out how to control your weight.

If you don’t know if you’re at a healthy weight, use this calculator to figure out your body mass index (BMI).

Healthy Habits

Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke.

Quitting smoking helps lower your risk of heart disease and heart attack. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) for free support and to set up your plan for quitting. Get more information about quitting smoking.

Avoiding secondhand smoke is important, too — so keep your home smoke-free. If you have guests who smoke, ask them to smoke outside. If someone in your home smokes, use these tips to start a conversation about quitting.

Manage stress.

Managing stress can help prevent serious health problems like heart disease, depression, and high blood pressure. Deep breathing and meditation are good ways to relax and manage stress. Get more ideas for how to manage stress.

The Basics

Content last updated July 29, 2022

Reviewer Information

This content on heart disease was adapted from materials from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Reviewed by:
Paula T. Einhorn, M.D., M.S.
Medical Officer/Program Director
Clinical Applications and Prevention Branch
Division of Cardiovascular Sciences
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

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FAQs

What vitamins should I take for heart health? ›

8 heart health supplements to take – and one to avoid
  • Multivitamin & mineral. Vitamins and minerals taken in appropriate doses may aid in lowering heart disease risk. ...
  • Coenzyme Q10 (Co Q10) Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a substance similar to a vitamin. ...
  • Fiber. ...
  • Omega-3 fatty acids. ...
  • Magnesium. ...
  • L-Carnitine. ...
  • Green tea. ...
  • Garlic.
30 Jan 2018

Which fruit is best for your heart? ›

Berries are chock full of heart-healthy phytonutrients and soluble fiber. Try blueberries, strawberries, blackberries or raspberries in cereal or yogurt. Seeds. Flaxseeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and phytoestogens to boost heart health.

What to eat for keeping heart healthy? ›

Follow these tips for heart-healthy eating:
  • Eat less saturated fat. Cut back on fatty meats and high-fat dairy products. ...
  • Cut down on sodium (salt). Read the Nutrition Facts label and choose foods that are lower in sodium. ...
  • Get more fiber. Eat vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains to add fiber to your diet.

What are 8 ways to be heart healthy? ›

Feeling the pressure? 8 ways to live a heart-healthy lifestyle
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Make it a habit to choose healthier food options. ...
  • Get active every week. ...
  • Shed excess weight. ...
  • Know your numbers and family health history. ...
  • Catch your Zzz's every night. ...
  • Reduce stress. ...
  • Don't smoke. ...
  • Improve dental hygiene.
28 Mar 2022

What are 7 ways you can control heart health? ›

Advertisement
  • Don't smoke or use tobacco. One of the best things you can do for your heart is to stop smoking or using smokeless tobacco. ...
  • Get moving: Aim for at least 30 to 60 minutes of activity daily. ...
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet. ...
  • Maintain a healthy weight. ...
  • Get good quality sleep. ...
  • Manage stress. ...
  • Get regular health screenings.

How can I improve my heart health fast? ›

Aerobic Exercise
  1. What it does: Aerobic exercise improves circulation, which results in lowered blood pressure and heart rate, Stewart says. ...
  2. How much: Ideally, at least 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week.
  3. Examples: Brisk walking, running, swimming, cycling, playing tennis and jumping rope.

Is turmeric good for your heart? ›

Lowers risk of heart disease

With its ability to help reduce inflammation and oxidation, turmeric could lower the risk of heart disease. Studies show that turmeric may help reverse the heart disease process.

Is Egg good for heart? ›

Most healthy people can eat up to seven eggs a week without increasing their risk of heart disease. Some studies have shown that this level of egg consumption might even help prevent certain types of stroke and a serious eye condition called macular degeneration that can lead to blindness.

Is coffee good for heart? ›

Coffee is full of health benefits. According to the American College of Cardiology, drinking two to three cups of coffee per day is associated with maintaining a healthy heart.

Is milk good for heart? ›

People whose daily diets include at least two servings per day of milk, yogurt, or cheese appear to have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, or death than people who don't consume dairy products.

What is a heart healthy breakfast? ›

Scrambled eggs, whole-grain toast, one cup of milk and sliced apples. Greek yogurt with whole-grain cereal and berries. Whole-grain toast with peanut butter or alternative, sliced apples, one cup of milk. Yogurt parfait with plain yogurt, ground flax seeds or muesli and fresh fruit.

Is banana good for your heart? ›

Heart health

Bananas contain fiber, potassium, folate, and antioxidants, such as vitamin C. All of these support heart health. A 2017 review found that people who follow a high fiber diet have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those on a low fiber diet.

What are 3 ways to take care of your heart? ›

How to take care of your heart health
  • Eat a heart healthy diet. ...
  • If overweight, lose weight. ...
  • Increase regular physical activity to at least 2.5 hours per week. ...
  • Don't use tobacco. ...
  • Avoid use of alcohol. ...
  • Have your blood pressure and blood sugar checked regularly.
14 Feb 2020

What is the 3 day heart diet? ›

The 3-Day Cardiac Diet sets strict limits on foods you can eat during specific meals. Meals generally consist of a protein source paired with fruits, vegetables, toast, or saltine crackers. Salt and pepper are the only permitted spices. For dessert, vanilla ice cream is allowed once per day during dinner.

How do I know if my heart is OK? ›

An electrocardiogram (ECG) is a test that records the electrical activity of the heart. The ECG reflects what's happening in different areas of the heart and helps identify any problems with the rhythm or rate of your heart. The ECG is painless and takes around 5-10 minutes to perform.

How can I tell if my heart is healthy? ›

Having normal blood pressure is a sign of a healthy heart. Normal blood pressure is below 120/80 mm Hg. High blood pressure is a systolic pressure of 130 or higher, or diastolic pressure of 90 or higher, that stays high over time.

What is the best way to avoid heart disease? ›

Prevention Coronary heart disease
  1. Eat a healthy, balanced diet. ...
  2. Be more physically active. ...
  3. Keep to a healthy weight. ...
  4. Give up smoking. ...
  5. Reduce your alcohol consumption. ...
  6. Keep your blood pressure under control. ...
  7. Keep your diabetes under control. ...
  8. Take any prescribed medicine.

What makes heart faster? ›

lack of sleep. stress and anxiety. medicines (check the leaflet that comes with the medicine) alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and recreational drugs.

Can you strengthen your heart? ›

Strengthening your heart is one of the best things you can do for your health. And as you know, the best way to strengthen your heart is to exercise. In fact, if you don't exercise you're more than twice as likely to get heart disease as someone who does.

Is garlic good for heart? ›

Some studies have shown that garlic and garlic supplements may have positive effects on heart health by preventing cell damage, regulating cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. Other research shows that garlic supplements may also reduce plaque buildup in the arteries.

How much garlic is good for the heart? ›

The amount needed is equivalent to about four cloves of garlic per day. High doses of garlic appear to improve blood pressure for those with known high blood pressure (hypertension). In some instances, supplements may be as effective as regular medications.

How many teaspoons of turmeric should I take daily? ›

The recommended daily dose for turmeric powder is about 3 grams per day, which is equivalent to a teaspoon.

Which juice is best for heart? ›

Beetroot juice stands among the most heart healthy juices. The high nitrate content of beet juice actually widens the blood vessels when it enters the body and studies suggest that blood pressure is lowered within 1 hour of ingestion.

What medicine stops heart attacks? ›

Medications to treat a heart attack might include:
  • Aspirin. Aspirin reduces blood clotting. ...
  • Clot busters (thrombolytics or fibrinolytics). ...
  • Other blood-thinning medications. ...
  • Nitroglycerin. ...
  • Morphine. ...
  • Beta blockers. ...
  • ACE inhibitors. ...
  • Statins.
21 May 2022

What can cure a heart problems? ›

The following changes are recommended to improve heart health:
  • Don't smoke. Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease, especially atherosclerosis. ...
  • Eat healthy foods. ...
  • Control blood pressure. ...
  • Get a cholesterol test. ...
  • Manage diabetes. ...
  • Exercise. ...
  • Maintain a healthy weight. ...
  • Manage stress.
25 Aug 2022

What food make heart stronger? ›

15 Incredibly Heart-Healthy Foods
  • Leafy green vegetables. Leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale, and collard greens are well known for their wealth of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. ...
  • Whole grains. ...
  • Berries. ...
  • Avocados. ...
  • Fatty fish and fish oil. ...
  • Walnuts. ...
  • Beans. ...
  • Dark chocolate.

Is cheese good for heart patient? ›

Cheese is a great source of protein and calcium but is often high in saturated fat and salt. This means eating too much could lead to high cholesterol and high blood pressure, increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Is Rice healthy to eat? ›

Is rice nutritious? Rice is a rich source of carbohydrates, the body's main fuel source. Carbohydrates can keep you energized and satisfied, and are important for fueling exercise. Brown rice, especially, is an excellent source of many nutrients, including fiber, manganese, selenium, magnesium, and B vitamins.

Is chocolate good for the heart? ›

Dr. Krittanawong said: “Chocolate contains heart healthy nutrients such as flavonoids, methylxanthines, polyphenols and stearic acid which may reduce inflammation and increase good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein or HDL cholesterol).”

What tea is good for your heart? ›

Black and green tea are the most popular kinds, accounting for 99% of the tea consumed in the United States. Both kinds of tea are loaded with caffeine and antioxidants called polyphenols, which are linked to lower blood pressure and better heart health.

Does drinking water help heart health? ›

“Similar to reducing salt intake, drinking enough water and staying hydrated are ways to support our hearts and may help reduce long-term risks for heart disease,” said Natalia Dmitrieva, Ph.

Which drink is the healthiest? ›

Water is the best choice for quenching your thirst. Coffee and tea, without added sweeteners, are healthy choices, too. Some beverages should be limited or consumed in moderation, including fruit juice, milk, and those made with low-calorie sweeteners, like diet drinks.

Is rice good for heart patients? ›

Researchers say rice inhibits a hormone that can cause blood vessels to narrow and excess sodium to accumulate in the blood, factors that lead to cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure and hardening of arteries. There are a number of medications available that block angiotensin.

Which fruit is good for heart and lungs? ›

These five foods have been shown to have a positive impact on lung health.
  • Apples. Due to the presence of the antioxidant quercetin, apples have been proven to reduce lung decline and even reduce lung damage caused by smoking. ...
  • Beets. ...
  • Pumpkin. ...
  • Tomatoes. ...
  • Leafy Greens.

How do I keep my heart normal? ›

Some of the steps to keep your heart healthy are annual check-up, no smoking, regular exercise, and walking.
...
  1. Reduce the consumption of caffeine and alcohol . ...
  2. No smoking. ...
  3. Maintain blood pressure levels. ...
  4. Regular exercise and diet.
3 Nov 2021

Which drink is best for heart? ›

6 Drinks to Boost Heart Health
  • Pomegranate juice. According to experts, pomegranates are uniquely healthy fruits for your heart. ...
  • Coffee. Studies have shown that people who drink 3-5 cups of coffee per day have a significantly lower risk of heart disease, stroke and heart failure. ...
  • Tea. ...
  • Tomato juice. ...
  • Green juice. ...
  • Smoothies.

How do I know my heart is healthy? ›

Having normal blood pressure is a sign of a healthy heart. Normal blood pressure is below 120/80 mm Hg. High blood pressure is a systolic pressure of 130 or higher, or diastolic pressure of 90 or higher, that stays high over time.

What causes heart attacks? ›

A heart attack occurs when an artery that sends blood and oxygen to the heart is blocked. Fatty, cholesterol-containing deposits build up over time, forming plaques in the heart's arteries. If a plaque ruptures, a blood clot can form. The clot can block arteries, causing a heart attack.

How do I clear my heart? ›

Eat a heart-healthy diet
  1. Eat more fruits and vegetables: Eat a variety to help gain a diverse supply of nutrients.
  2. Add more good fats to your diet: Good fats are also called unsaturated fats. ...
  3. Cut sources of saturated fat: Examples of foods to cut include fatty meats and dairy products.

What can calm my heart? ›

Simple breathing exercises can help with anxiety as taking slow, deeper breaths can calm the body's stress response. Mindfulness and meditation can be helpful ways to cope with anxiety.

Is coffee good for your heart? ›

Heart health benefits

Coffee is full of health benefits. According to the American College of Cardiology, drinking two to three cups of coffee per day is associated with maintaining a healthy heart.

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