You can help keep your heart and blood vessels healthy by taking steps toward a healthier lifestyle. These healthy habits include not smoking, eating right, exercising regularly, staying at a healthy weight, and getting the screening tests you need.
A heart-healthy lifestyle is important for everyone, not just for people with existing health problems. It can help you keep your heart and blood vessels healthy. If you already have heart or blood vessel problems, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure, a healthy lifestyle can help you lower your risk of a heart attack and stroke.
If you have children, you can be their healthy role model. If your habits are healthy, your children are more likely to build those habits in their own lives.
Everyone who uses tobacco would benefit from quitting. When you quit smoking—no matter how old you are—you will decrease your risk of heart attack, stroke, and many other health problems. For help with quitting smoking, see these topics:
- Quitting Smoking
- Quitting Smokeless Tobacco
- How Does Smoking Affect Your Lifespan?
- Quitting Smoking: Should I Use Medicine?
Eat healthy foods
Eating healthy foods is one of the best things you can do to prevent and control many health problems, including heart and blood vessel disease. For help with healthy eating, see these topics:
- Dietary Guidelines for Good Health
- Developing a Plan for Healthy Eating
- Quick Tips: Adding Fruits and Vegetables to Your Diet
Improving your fitness is good for your heart and blood vessels, as well as the rest of your body. Being active helps lower your risk of health problems. And it helps you feel good. For more information about being active, see these topics:
- Fitness: Getting and Staying Active
- Fitness: Adding More Activity to Your Life
- Healthy Muscles
Reach and stay at a healthy weight
Staying at a healthy weight is also part of a heart-healthy lifestyle. Read more in these topics about reaching and staying at a healthy weight:
- Weight Management
- Quick Tips: Cutting Calories
- Physical Activity for Weight Loss
Get screening tests
Seeing your doctor regularly and getting screening tests is important. The sooner your doctor diagnoses a disease, the more likely it can be cured or managed. To reduce your risk of heart and blood vessel problems, be sure to keep an eye on your cholesterol and blood pressure. The tests you might have to check your risk for heart and blood vessel problems depend on your age, health, gender, and risk factors. Talk to your doctor to find out which tests are right for you.
- Interactive Tool: Which Health Screenings Do You Need?
- Heart Attack and Stroke Risk Screening
Other Works Consulted
- Eckel RH, et al. (2013). 2013 AHA/ACC guideline on lifestyle management to reduce cardiovascular risk: A report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Circulation. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/2013/11/11/01.cir.0000437740.48606.d1.citation. Accessed December 5, 2013.
- Expert Panel on Integrated Guidelines for Cardiovascular Health and Risk Reduction in Children and Adolescents (2011). Expert panel on integrated guidelines for cardiovascular health and risk reduction in children and adolescents: Summary report. Pediatrics, 128(Suppl 5): S213–S256.
Current as of: August 31, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine