7 not-so-secret ways to keep your heart healthy

heart healthy

The heart beats about 2.5 billion times over the average lifetime, pumping blood and a steady flow of oxygen throughout your body.1 Given your heart’s workload, it’s important to keep it as healthy as possible. Things like poor diet, lack of exercise and smoking can cause it to work even harder, and sometimes, stop working completely.

Care for your heart health

Your lifestyle choices can be a secret weapon to preventing heart disease and may reduce your risk for heart disease by as much as 80 percent according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Here are the American Heart Associations “Life’s Simple 7” to help control your heart disease risk:

  1. Get active (try walking more or joining a gym; most ConnectiCare members are eligible for fitness center discounts at participating gyms)
  2. Control your cholesterol
  3. Eat healthy (here are ways to make healthier lunches)
  4. Manage your blood pressure
  5. Maintain a healthy weight
  6. Reduce your blood sugar (if your living with diabetes, keep tabs on it)
  7. Stop smoking

Don’t ignore these heart attack symptoms

The common warnings signs of heart attack include:

  • A crushing, squeezing, or burning pain, pressure in the center of the chest. The pain may radiate to the neck, one or both arms, or the jaw. The chest discomfort lasts more than a few minutes or can go away and return.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Weak pulse
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Extreme fatigue (feeling very tired or weak)

While those are the classic symptoms of a heart attack, women in particular may not experience any chest pressure. Nieca Goldberg, M.D., medical director for the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYU’s Langone Medical Center and an American Heart Association volunteer says, “Instead they may experience shortness of breath, pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting, upper back pressure or extreme fatigue.”

Take a few minutes to assess your heart health by using the American Heart Association’s Check. Change. Control. CALCULATOR

1Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School website, accessed Jan. 28, 2018.