Heart Healthy Living Tips
If you have CVD, adjusting to a healthier life may seem overwhelming… but it's possible. The key is to set small goals.
Don't smoke or quit smoking
If you smoke, the first goal is to quit. Smoking is hard on your heart and your blood vessels. Smoking raises your blood pressure and makes being active difficult. It can cause blood to clot. It decreases HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
Once you have quit smoking, it is time to get moving. Getting started on a regular exercise routine is sometimes the hardest part, so find something that you enjoy. Start out slow and work your way toward a goal.
- Limit unhealthy fats and cholesterol. Cut down on the solid fat you eat like butter, margarine and shortening. Healthy fats are usually liquid at room temperature. Examples are olive oil and canola oil. Remember, even healthy fats are high in calories, so use sparingly.
- Good sources of protein are lean meats, poultry and fish. Low-fat dairy and eggs are also good sources.
- When shopping for fruits and vegetables think "rainbow." This means eating fruits and vegetables of different colors. Enjoy their natural flavor without adding salt, butter or dressing.
- Choose whole grains over refined, processed grains like white bread and rice. Pick breads, cereals and pastas with whole-wheat listed as the first ingredient.
- Limit your salt intake. Too much salt can cause swelling, shortness of breath and weight gain.
Maintain a healthy weight
Weight control will follow naturally when eating healthy and being active. Keep a record to help with your efforts. Remember, you won't achieve a healthy lifestyle overnight, so don't be too hard on yourself. The important thing is that you are trying.
Your blood pressure and pulse rate drop just 20 minutes after you quit. After 24 hours, your chance of a heart attack is less. After one year, the extra risk of heart disease caused by smoking is cut by half!