How to Keep Your Heart Healthy

Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy

Your heart plays a major role in keeping your body going. It pumps blood to all your other organs, sending nutrients and oxygen to them. The health of your heart affects your overall health.

Unfortunately, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S.1 The good news is that you can protect your heart and keep it healthy, and in doing so, protect your overall health, too.

Know Your Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Levels

High blood pressure and high cholesterol are both risk factors for heart disease. Knowing your levels and working with your family physician to keep those levels within a healthy range can help protect your heart.


Your doctor may recommend lifestyle and diet changes or medications to lower your blood pressure or cholesterol depending on your results.

Get Moving

Physical activity helps reduce many of the risk factors for heart disease. Regular exercise, at least 150 minutes of moderate activity weekly, can lower your blood pressure and improve your cholesterol levels. It may also help you maintain a healthy weight.


You don't have to join a gym or engage in vigorous workouts to see the benefits of exercise. Taking a 30-minute brisk walk each day can be sufficient. Before starting an exercise program, talk to your doctor about your options.

Keep Stress Down

When you're stressed, your blood pressure increases and your heart beats faster, putting strain on your cardiovascular system. When stressed, many people also turn to unhealthy habits, such as smoking or drinking.

While it may seem easier said than done, there are ways to keep your stress under control. Practice taking deep breaths in and out or meditating. Journaling can also help to reduce your stress levels.

For some people, engaging in physical activity, such as going for a run, dancing, or kickboxing, helps to reduce stress.

Limit or Skip Alcohol

You've probably heard claims that drinking alcohol, particularly red wine, benefits your heart. The truth is, alcohol can raise your blood pressure and strain the heart. While the occasional glass may be fine, you're better off skipping alcohol if you're not a drinker or cutting back if you drink more than a glass daily.

Stay Up-to-Date on Preventive Care

Your overall health affects your heart health. One of the best things you can do to protect your heart is to keep up with your preventive care. Untreated dental infections can increase your risk of a heart attack, so schedule regular checkups and cleanings with your dental provider.

Similarly, getting the flu or other illnesses can increase some people's risk of heart disease. To protect yourself, get your annual flu shot and talk to your doctor about other immunizations that may protect your heart.

Avoid Tobacco

Cigarettes and other tobacco products increase your risk for heart problems. Smoking damages your blood vessels and reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood. With limited oxygen, your heart has to work harder to pump blood through the body.

If you currently smoke or use other tobacco products, talk to your family doctor about ways to quit. If you don't smoke, do what you can to avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.

Eat Healthy Foods

Your diet can help you control your cholesterol and blood sugar levels and keep your blood pressure under control. To make it easier to eat healthfully, focus on what you can eat, rather than what you should avoid.

A heart-healthy diet includes plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. It also has plenty of lean protein, from beans, chicken, or fish.

You don't have to cut out certain foods, such as sweets, savory snacks, or red meat. Focus on filling your plate with heart-healthy picks first, then eat the rest in moderation.


Sleep is restorative. Your body needs sleep, at least seven hours nightly, to function at its best. A lack of sleep raises the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart attack.

If you're not getting enough sleep, your family doctor can help you create a sleep schedule and improve your sleep hygiene habits.

Medications may sometimes be needed to help you keep your heart healthy. During your next checkup, talk to your family doctor about your concerns and work together to develop a plan to protect your heart.

Sponsored by 


1. Heart Disease Facts, Centers for Disease Control,

Copyright © 2020 Parrish Healthcare