There is a great deal of advice out there on how to have a healthy heart. If you're feeling overwhelmed, save yourself some time and try these 10 simple heart health tips.

  1. Know your heart disease risk
    Use this calculator to find your heart disease risk (or ask your doctor to calculate it). Write down your risk level and ask your doctor what you can do to lower it.
  2. Master your cholesterol

     Reaching your cholesterol treatment targets could help save your life by reducing your risk of a heart attack or stroke. Ask your doctor what your cholesterol levels are now, what cholesterol targets you should aim for, and how to get there.

     Track your progress over time to stay motivated.
  3. Get your medication working for you

    Your heart medications won't work if you don't take them! Ask yourself "what's the number one reason why I don't take my medications?" Then call or visit your local pharmacy for advice.
  4. Ease into healthy eating

    You don't need a perfect diet to improve your heart health. Even small changes go a long way. You're more likely to succeed if you take "baby steps":
    • Week 1: Try to get half of your grain servings from whole-grain products.
    • Week 2: Try to eat one dark green vegetable each day.
    • Week 3: Try to eat 2 servings of salmon or trout this week.
    • Week 4: Switch to a lower-fat milk (if you drink 2%, try 1%).
  5. Think of yourself as an active person

    Not a fitness buff? Don't worry – you can still get the heart benefits of exercise. The first step is in your mind: start thinking of yourself as an active person. Now slip on your walking shoes after dinner today and take a stroll. Even 10 minutes of activity is enough to get started. You'll be amazed how quickly you work your way up to a half hour of walking on most days of the week!
  6. Find a happy place...on the scale

    Find out your healthy weight range, then see "Ease into healthy eating" and "Think of yourself as an active person" for ideas on how to reach a healthy weight. Don't be daunted by the number on the scale – even losing just 5-10% of your body weight can make a difference in your heart health.
  7. Kick some butt

    Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your heart (and overall!) health. To get started, write down why, when, and where you smoke and the pros and cons of smoking as you see them. If you're ready to quit after weighing the pros and cons, set a quit date in the next 2 weeks and write it on your calendar. Then enlist your friends, family, doctor, and pharmacist for support and advice.
  8. Lower your glass

    Red wine may have a heart-healthy reputation, but it's possible to get too much of a good thing. Limit yourself to 2 drinks per day to a maximum of 10 per week for women and 3 drinks per day to a maximum of 15 per week for men.
  9. Ease up

    You don't need to be a Zen master to enjoy the heart-healthy benefits of relaxation. When you feel stressed during the day, take a few moments to relax your muscles, breathe deeply, and read something that makes you laugh.
  10. Be a doctor's office pro

    Have you ever left the doctor's office only to realize you forgot to ask that nagging question? Get the most out of your visit by being prepared. Write down questions and concerns you have before the appointment. Then, remember to bring the list of questions and a pen to write down the doctor's answers at the visit.