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Pathway to a Healthy Heart

A Healthy Hearts Guide  WHF red heart corporate logo ®

    Exercise Regularly

Exercise 30 min most days of the week with a moderate-intensity activity (e.g. brisk walk) and 60-90 min daily for weight control. (Check with your healthcare practitioner before starting any exercise program).

Aim for at least 30 minutes a day or two 15-minute periods of exercise.

Maximize health benefits by making exercise a part of your daily routine.

Do warms-up and cool-down exercises to help prevent muscle injury.

    Eat Sensibly

Eat a wide variety of foods in moderation and follow My Pyramid for portion size.

Use the Nutrition Facts Label as an aid for healthful choices.

Limit total fat. Limit saturated fat. Avoid hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils -known as trans-fat (read the ingredients section).

Replace unhealthy fats with healthy monounsaturated fats like olive, canola and peanut oils.

Eat at least two fish meals a week. Cold water fish contain health omega-3 oils.

Drink 4-6 glasses of water a day.

Maintain a healthy weight. Don't crash diet.

    Manage Stress

Stress is a normal part of life how you deal with it can have an affect on your heart.

Schedule "me" time to do the things that give you pleasure.

Devote an hour a day to relaxing. Take a walk, do yoga stretches. Try needlepoint...any activity that promotes relaxation.

Practice meditation to help control reactions to stress.

Get a good night's sleep.

Allow others to help with daily chores.

    Control High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure often has no symptoms - that's why it's called The Silent Killer.

Take medication exactly as prescribed.

Optimal blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg. Drug therapy is indicated when blood pressure is >140/90 mm Hg, or an even lower blood pressure in the setting of chronic kidney disease or diabetes (>130/90 mm Hg). A blood pressure reading of 135/85 or above is considered high.

Monitor high blood pressure regularly. Ask your doctor about blood pressure self-monitoring.

Be aware of Risk Factors for High Blood Pressure:

  • Heredity

  • Race (twice as frequent in African-Americans than Whites)

  • Obesity (2-6 times more likely to develop)

  • Age (risk goes up as you get older)

  • Salt Intake (limit if salt-sensitive)

  • Excess Alcohol Intake

  • Lack of Exercise

  • Stress

    Avoid Potential Problems


Don't Smoke

Control Diabetic blood sugars.

Avoid drugs that contribute to heart rhythm disturbances.

Reduce risk of drug interactions by letting all of your doctors know about every medicine you are taking - even over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbals and birth control pills.

Red wine and other alcoholic beverages may help reduce the risk of heart disease, but, if you don't drink, don't start. Women should limit alcohol intake to one drink per day. Alcohol is an addictive drug and excess alcohol consumption is a risk factor for heart disease and other diseases and contributes to domestic violence and automobile fatalities. Purple grape juice may offer the same health benefit for arteries without the concerns of alcohol.

    Have Healthy Relationships

Intimacy, trust and feeling supported are ingredients of a healthy relationship. Share your feelings with a trusted loved one. Learn to communicate effectively to get what you need. Seek counseling or support groups if you have difficulty relating to others.

Be clear when reporting health concerns to your medical practitioner. Organize your information before your visit to the doctor or practitioner's office.

Remain active in your role as caregiver. Share yourself. Volunteer.

Alcohol and Heart Disease |  Gender Differences |  Mitral Valve Prolapse |  Women’s Heart Risk Quiz Sleep Disturbances: Heart at Risk |  What is Heart Disease? |  Cardiac Arrhythmia Management in Women |  Heart Disease Facts |  Panic Attack or Heart Attack |  Three Women from New Jersey  |  Noreen  | 

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1999-2000; updates: 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007 Women's Heart Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use prohibited. The information contained in this Women's Heart Foundation (WHF) Web site is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment, and WHF recommends consultation with your doctor or health care professional.