The Simple Seven: Lifestyle Choices for a Healthy Heart

Are you in the pink when it comes to that all important muscle, your heart? The American Heart Association has developed a simple assessment tool to find out if you are managing all seven lifestyle factors for a healthy heart.

  1. Get Active: Accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of high-intensity  physical activity per week. You can do it in 10-15 minute "doses". For some great ideas on how to fit more exercise into your day, check out these books and resources.
  2. Control Cholesterol: Give your arteries the best chance to stay free of plaque, blockages which can lead to heart disease and stroke. Keep your total cholesterol under 200 and learn how to increase the percentage of good cholesterol (HDL).
  3. Eat Better: Eat a heart-healthy diet: foods low in saturated and trans fat, cholesterol, sodium and added sugars, and foods high in whole grain fiber, lean protein, and a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.
  4. Manage Blood Pressure: High blood pressure is the single most significant risk factor for heart disease. Uncontrolled high blood pressure is called the silent killer because it has no symptoms - one in three American adults has it and may not know it. Normal blood pressure is 120/80.
  5. Lose Weight: If you have too much fat — especially if a lot of it is at your waist — you're at higher risk for such health problems as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and diabetes. Measure your waist-to-hip ratio and learn your body mass index (BMI).
  6. Reduce Blood Sugar: Our bodies convert the foods we eat into glucose (or blood sugar) to use for energy. If your fasting blood sugar level is below 100, you are in the healthy range. If not, your results could indicate diabetes or pre-diabetes.
  7. Stop Smoking: Any and all smoking is a risk factor for heart disease; and the more you smoke the more you are at risk. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health. Your lungs can begin to heal as soon as you quit.

For more detailed information and to get your own personal assessment, go to www.mylifecheck.heart.org and click on "Get Your Assessment."