Your heart is a vital organ that
keeps your body functioning. Unfortunately, many
people don't treat it that way. Start by making the
following lifestyle changes.
GET SMOKE FREE
Nicotine causes blood vessels to
narrow. This makes it hard for blood to reach your
heart. Nicotine also raises blood pressure, and the
carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke deprives the
heart of oxygen. That's why smokers have twice the
risk of having a heart attack than nonsmokers. So,
if you smoke, it pays to quit.
EAT HEART-FRIENDLY FOODS
Eating fatty foods can lead to the
buildup of fat deposits in your arteries. This can
lead to blockages in the blood flow to your heart,
which can cause a heart attack. To help avoid a
buildup of fat in your arteries, limit foods that
are high in animal fats. These include fatty meats,
whole-milk products, egg yolks and fried foods.
Choose their low-fat counterparts, such as nonfat
milk or low-fat dairy products. In addition, choose
cooking oils made with unsaturated fats, such as
canola and olive oils. They are healthier than oils
made with saturated fats. But since they are still
types of fat, use them in limited amounts. Also, try
to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
SET EXERCISE GOAL
Exercise gets your heart pumping.
This helps your body use oxygen better and makes
your heart stronger.
It can also decrease your blood
pressure and the amount of fat in your blood. Start
your exercise program slowly, especially if you
haven't been active for a while.
short sessions, such as a 10-minute walk. Gradually
increase the length of your workouts; work up to 30
minutes on most days of the week. Be sure to talk
with your doctor before starting an exercise
WATCH YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE
pressure is the force exerted on the walls of your
blood vessels as blood flows through them. The
harder your heart works, the greater your risk of
having a heart attack becomes. According to the
American Heart Association (AHA), an optimal blood
pressure is 120/80 mm Hg
or less; normal is 130/85 mm Hg.