Heart Health - February 2022

Checklist for your Heart

What are the key elements that can help protect your heart? Check the following habits that you typically observe or hope to develop for heart health. Then start watching your progress.

  • Waistline: Keep your waist circumference below 35 inches (for women) or below 40 inches (for men). Excess belly fat raises heart disease risk.
  • Power moves: Stay physically active and get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise weekly. Examples: routine brisk walks, a dance class or cardio machine workouts.
  • Numbers game: Know your blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose and triglyceride levels through regular checks by my health care provider. Knowing and understanding your numbers is critical to heart health.
  • Positive food: A diet rich in fresh produce, whole grains and lean protein sources (fish, beans, lean meats) help fight arterial disease and unwanted weight gain.
  • Don’t smoke: Smoking significantly raises the risk of heart disease and diabetes by damaging the blood vessels and raising blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Yes for nutrition: Refined grains or processed foods (e.g., low-fiber, high-sugar foods and preserved meats) remove many healthful components in the original food sources.
  • Laugh a lot: It feels good and relieves stress and depression. Laughter helps lower stress hormones and artery inflammation and increase HDL (good) cholesterol, says the American Heart Association.