Do you work at a desk most of the day? After a hard day’s work, do you enjoy relaxing with your favorite TV shows, Netflix or YouTube? Lifestyle habits can make us more or less susceptible to heart disease. But, with a few heart-smart tips personalized for your age, Kathleen Stergiopoulos, MD, PhD, cardiologist and Co-Director of Stony Brook’s Women’s Heart Center, explains how you can stay heart healthy through the years.
Start early: 2-10 years old
- It’s never too soon to start monitoring your child’s blood pressure so, if your pediatrician doesn’t recommend it before 10 years old, ask.
- Repeat blood pressure checks every five years through childhood.
- Be creative in getting fruits and vegetables on your child’s plate to jump start a healthy heart mindset. Let them choose a new fruit or vegetable to try each week.
Build your foundation: 10-20 years old
- Active, healthy lifestyles often start now. With 60 minutes of active play each day, kids may grow into adults who swim, jog or enjoy sports.
- Have an honest conversation with your kids about illegal drugs, including the risk of heart damage and heart attacks, even in healthy young adults.
- To vape or not to vape? The simple answer is no. Vaping has serious heart risks, including elevated blood pressure and decreased lung capacity.
Avoid falling into the trap: 30-50 years old
- Here come the danger years, especially for busy parents, working families and those caring for dependent parents. Exercise often slides, and meals come out of a box.
- Keep focused. Prepare extra home-cooked meals and freeze them, so you have instant access to healthy options. Avoid salt-rich packaged foods.
- Monitor your waistline more closely than your calories. A waistline of less than 35 inches for women and 40 inches or men is best.
- Make 150 your mantra: that’s the number of minutes of moderate exercise recommended each week by the American Heart Association.
Enjoy your hard work: 50 and older
- If you’ve locked into a heart-healthy routine, keep it up, but it is also never too late to start.
- The single most important thing you can do for yourself is limit salt intake. Salt is the greatest dietary contributor to heart disease, surpassing saturated fat.
- If intense exercise is becoming challenging, walk instead. With just 150 minutes per week, you will satisfy your aerobic needs. Just keep moving.
- Take a heart-healthy cooking class. There are so many flavorful, creative recipes that will stir your pallet and introduce you to exciting new foods.
Do you know how your heart’s biological age compares with your actual age?
Are you making heart-healthy choices now that will help protect your heart in later years?
Do you know your risk factors for heart disease and what you can do about it?
Do something good for your heart by getting involved in your own heart health today. Take our free heart health risk assessment.
Learn about your risk factors and bring the results to your next doctor’s appointment.