Your heart works hard for you day in and day out. With every beat, it provides the body with the nutrients and oxygen needed to live. And it does all this automatically, without a second thought. Unfortunately, that might mean you’ve forgotten the importance of taking care of this all-too-essential organ. Having a healthy heart doesn’t just help you avoid cardiovascular disease, it also reduces the risk for type 2 diabetes, improves brain function and lowers the risk of stroke.
So what can you do to get back in tune with your ticker? Here are some important questions to ask your family, doctor and even yourself, to make sure you’re doing all you can to keep your heart healthy:
Heart Health History Questions for Your Family
- Has anyone experienced complications from heart disease on, or before, they turned 55? If so, this can be a sign of genetic predisposition to heart disease.
- Do we have a history of high blood pressure or high cholesterol in our family?
- Has anyone in our family ever had a stroke or heart attack? If so, at what age?
- Has anyone had a procedure to correct heart issues, like a coronary artery bypass or valve surgery?
- Does anyone currently have heart problems, including arrhythmia?
Annual Heart Health Screenings to Ask the Doctor:
- Blood Glucose: High blood glucose levels expose you to a greater risk of diabetes-related issues, including insulin resistance and prediabetes.
- Blood Pressure: Damage to the heart caused by high blood pressure can create plaque in your arteries and raise your risk for a heart attack.
- Cholesterol: The higher the HDL cholesterol, the greater your risk for heart disease.
- Body Mass Index: This measurement is used to determine whether you are overweight or obese, which can increase your potential for heart attack.
Personal Health Questions to Ask Yourself
- How are my eating habits? Limiting saturated fat, trans fat, sodium and added sugar is important for keeping the heart healthy. The bulk of your diet should be made up of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, skinless chicken, fish, nuts and legumes, and healthy fats like olive oil.
- Am I moving enough? Having an active lifestyle with at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily is effective in promoting heart health. Physical activity can easily be incorporated into your routine by doing a set of jumping jacks during the commercial breaks of your favorite show or by taking three brisk 10-minute walks throughout the day.
- Am I still smoking? Making the decision to “quit the nic” is one of the best choices you could make in your journey to heart health.
Be honest when you ask yourself these questions, as having an accurate picture of your diet and habits will help you more effectively address your heart health, preventing more severe issues from happening down the line.
It’s never too late to make heart health a priority. For more heart health resources and information, visit these blogs:
- Profiles in Heart: Survivors Share Their Cardiac Health Stories
- Getting Ahead: Healthy Heart Practices for the New Year
- Learning More About Heart Health on the Healthier Michigan Radio Show
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