You’re never too old (or too young) to take care of your heart. Making healthy choices to prevent cardiovascular diseases will pay off for the rest of your life. Here are tips from the American Heart Association to prevent heart disease at any age.
- Choose a healthy eating plan. The food you eat can decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke. Choose foods low in saturated fat, trans fats and sodium. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, fiber-rich whole grains, fish, nuts, legumes and seeds, and try eating some meals without meat. Select lower fat dairy products and poultry (skinless). Limit sugar-sweetened beverages and red meat. If you choose to eat meat, select the leanest cuts available.
- Be physically active. You can slowly work up to at least two and a half hours (150 minutes) of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity (e.g., brisk walking) every week, one hour and fifteen minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity (e.g., jogging, running) or a combination of both every week. Additionally, on two or more days a week you need muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups. Children should get at least 60 minutes of activity every day.
- Learn the warning signs of heart attack and stroke. Not everyone experiences sudden numbness with a stroke or severe chest pain with a heart attack. And heart attack symptoms in women can be different than men.
- Don’t smoke and avoid secondhand smoke. Even exposure to secondhand smoke poses a serious health hazard. Nonsmokers are up to 30 percent more likely to develop heart disease or lung cancer from secondhand smoke exposure at home or work, according to a U.S. Surgeon General report.