Sometimes if a little bit is good, more is even better. That’s especially true when it comes to healthy habits and heart disease. The American Heart Association (AHA) has pinpointed seven habits that contribute to a healthy heart. Follow one or two, and you’re doing your heart some good. Adopting all seven is even better.
Measures of Heart Health
The AHA’s Life’s Simple 7® identifies risk factors that people can improve to boost heart health:
- Manage blood pressure. High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. A healthy blood pressure level is less than 120/80 mmHg.
- Get active. Doing at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week helps reduce the risk for heart disease. It’s OK to break your activity into smaller amounts throughout the day. You can also slowly work up to this weekly goal.
- Control cholesterol. Too much LDL—the “bad” —cholesterol in your blood can narrow arteries, increasing the risk for heart attack and stroke. Get your cholesterol checked. If your provider says your cholesterol is too high, follow their advice for lowering it.
- Eat better. Enjoy a variety of vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain products. Reduce your intake of highly processed foods, which tend to be loaded with fat, sugar, and sodium. Buy fat-free or low-fat dairy products to help reduce the amount of saturated and trans fats in your diet.
- Lose weight, if needed. One way to assess your weight is body mass index (BMI). To find out your BMI, visit nhlbi.nih.gov and search for “BMI calculator.” If it’s 25 or higher, talk with your provider about your weight and health risks.
- Reduce blood sugar. Adults with high blood sugar (diabetes) are more likely to have heart disease than those without it. Get your blood sugar levels checked regularly. Aim to stay in your target range.
- Stop smoking Smoking increases the risk for heart disease, especially if you have other risk factors.
How Do You Stack Up?
To assess and track your progress with AHA’s Life’s Simple 7, visit mylifecheck.heart.org and click on My Heart Score.