When it comes to preventing cardiac issues, like heart disease or heart attack, there’s no magic pill. But, altering your diet and getting active go a long way in terms of keeping your heart muscle strong and staving off problems down the road.
#1: Adopt a Mediterranean-Style Diet
The Mediterranean-style diet focuses more on plant-based foods and monounsaturated (good) fat and less on meats and carbohydrates. “It’s not necessarily a low-fat diet,” Santanu Biswas MD, of the TriHealth Heart Institute, explains. “All of your fats are primarily from olive oil or vegetable oil, but olive oil is what they recommend. Nuts, almonds and things like that can be high in fat, but they’re plant-based.”
Instead of red meat, the Mediterranean diet focuses on fish and other types of seafood.
#2: Maintain a Healthy Weight
If you’re overweight, Dr. Biswas says getting down to a healthy number is one of the best things you can do for your heart.
A body mass index (BMI) from 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal, whereas if you have a BMI higher than 25, you are considered to be overweight. Calculate your BMI >>
#3: Get Active
Dr. Biswas says the single most important way to prevent heart disease is through regular exercise. To improve overall cardiovascular health, the American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity).
Aim for 30 minutes a day, five days a week to stay on track.
#4: Know Your Family History
Family history plays a huge role in determining your risk factor for developing cardiac issues, like heart disease, down the road, Dr. Biswas suggests. “Family history that we consider riskier, in terms of having a heart attack, are first-degree relatives, so that’s father, mother, children and siblings,” he adds.
If you do have a strong family history of heart issues, maintaining a healthy weight and staying active is even more critical.
Living a Heart-Healthy Life Leads to Better Recovery
If you're already proactive about your heart health, and you sustain a cardiac issue, like a heart attack, you’re more likely to survive. “Even if you get heart disease, you’re more likely to survive through it and live just as good of a life as anyone else,” Dr. Biswas points out.