Make Your Whole Heart Happy with small steps that can make a big difference.




Activity

Q: What is heart healthy exercise?
A: Any moderate-intensity physical activity that increases your heart rate and keeps it elevated for a time will benefit your heart, as well as your overall health. The current recommendation is that adults should get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each day. You don't have to do it all at one time though. You can break it into shorter periods (at least 10 minutes each) throughout the day. Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.

Q: How can I stick to an exercise plan?
A: Exercise should be fun, not a chore. Choose a variety of activities you enjoy and alternate them to avoid boredom. Write down your goals, track your progress and reward yourself for your successes. Joining a class or exercising with a friend can also help keep you motivated.


Nutrition

Q: What does a heart-healthy diet include?
A: Include a variety of high-fiber whole grains (for example, oatmeal, whole wheat bread, popcorn), fruits and vegetables, low- or fat-free dairy products (milk, regular or frozen yogurt, cheese), nuts, seeds and legumes (almonds, peanuts, kidney beans), and lean meats, poultry and fish. Avoid foods that are high in salt, added sugar, and saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol. Limit fats and oils to 2 to 3 servings a day, and sweets to 5 or fewer servings a week.


Q: Can multivitamins support heart health?
A: At times your lifestyle prevents you from eating a balanced diet, so a daily multivitamin can help you get the nutrients your body needs.


Heart Helpers

Q: How does aspirin help protect the heart?
A: In adults with documented heart concerns, taking aspirin regularly can lower the risk of recurrent heart attack by helping prevent blood clots from forming in the arteries of the heart. Aspirin is not appropriate for everyone, so be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen.


Q: What are phytosterols and how can they help the heart?
A: Foods containing at least 0.65 grams of vegetable oil sterol esters eaten twice a day with meals for a daily total intake of at least 1.3 grams, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease. Phytosterols are a natural plant-based substance that may reduce the risk of heart disease. Phytosterols are present in many plant-based oils (for example, wheat germ, and corn, flax and soybean oil), and in many fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes.


Q: How can omega-3 fatty acids help protect the heart?
A: Supportive (but not conclusive) research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Omega-3's can be obtained by eating fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel, or by taking fish oil or flax oil supplements. A 3-ounce serving of cooked, farm-raised Atlantic salmon provides 1.83 grams of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids.


Blood Pressure

Q: What is the doctor measuring when he takes my blood pressure?
A: When your heart beats, it pushes blood out to your body through your arteries. Blood pressure is a measurement of the force pushing outwards on your arterial walls. The pressure measured when the heart contracts and sends blood out of the heart is systolic blood pressure (the higher number). The pressure measured when the heart dilates with blood flowing back to the heart is called diastolic blood pressure (the lower number).


Q: When is the best time to check my blood pressure at home? A: Monitoring at home is easy. To ensure an accurate reading, do not measure within 30 minutes of exercise, eating, smoking, drinking alcohol or bathing. Sit quietly for about 5 minutes with both feet flat on the floor before beginning.


Q: What is considered high blood pressure?
A: A blood pressure reading of 140/90 mmHg or higher is considered high blood pressure. Both numbers are important and if one or both numbers are high, you may have high blood pressure.


Q: What are the benefits of using a wrist monitor? A: Wrist monitors are portable and convenient, so accurate blood pressure and pulse readings are never out of reach.


Q: What are the benefits of using an arm monitor?
A: Arm monitors are easy to use and offer advanced features like Voice Assist", larger displays, AC adapters and more!


Some dietary supplements may interact negatively with medication or even other supplements. Consult with your doctor to determine which health regimen is best for you.
The information in this section is meant to act as a guide. It is not a substitute for medical advice.