You're truly never too young or too old to protect your heart. "The buildup of plaque in your arteries can silently start as early as your late teens and early 20s," explains Jennifer H. Mieres, M.D., professor of cardiology and population health and senior vice president, office of community and public health, at the North Shore-LIJ health system. Lower your odds of developing heart disease by keeping an eye on these key factors and lifestyle habits in your 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond.See More
Making some simple design and lifestyle changes at home can lead to a healthier heart. Here are our top tips -- all doable in just minutes.
Keep sneakers by your front door so they're handy for exercising. Staying active is essential to good heart health. A recent study of more than 27,000 women enrolled in the Women's Health Study found that those who exercised the most were 40 percent less likely to have a heart attack or stroke than those who exercised the least.
Hang a pedometer on a hook by the door and clip it to your waistband every morning -- it's an inexpensive way to track how many steps you take throughout the day. For maximum health benefits, aim to walk 10,000 steps a day. If you fall short of that goal, increase your average daily steps by about 500 until you get to that point.
Use your phone as a tool to quit smoking. By calling 800-784-8669 -- a free smoking-cessation resource sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services -- you can speak with a "quit coach" in your state.
Keep portions in check with a food scale. Do you really know what 3 ounces of meat or an ounce of cheese looks like? Neither does anyone else. That's why this handy tool helps keep you from overeating -- and is a powerful resource for managing your weight.
You already know to floss daily for healthy teeth, but did you know that flossing is good for your heart too? Researchers have repeatedly found a direct link between the inflammation caused by gum disease and heart disease.
Doctors at the National Weight Control Registry, a database of people who have successfully lost large amounts of weight and kept it off, report that adults who weigh themselves daily are more likely to maintain their ideal weight.
Ask your partner if you snore. A little gentle snoring is fine -- but loud snoring coupled with episodes in which you stop breathing for a second or two is not. You may have sleep apnea, which has been linked to heart disease (since oxygen is repeatedly being cut off from your heart). See your doctor for advice.
Take daytime naps. Harvard researchers recently found that those who frequently snoozed at midday were 30 percent less likely to die of heart disease.
Climb a flight of stairs to gauge your fitness level. If your heart rate goes up by more than 10 beats per minute or you feel short of breath, you're probably out of shape. You could also have heart disease. Consult your doctor. If you simply need more exercise, climbing up and down your stairs for just three minutes a day can increase your cardiac endurance.