How to Help Prevent Heart Disease - At Any Age

Updated:Feb 3,2016

multi-generational African-American family outdoorsYou’re never too young— or too old — to take care of your heart.

Preventing heart disease (and all cardiovascular diseases) means making smart choices now that will pay off the rest of your life.

Lack of exercise, a poor diet and other unhealthy habits can take their toll over the years. Anyone at any age can benefit from simple steps to keep their heart healthy during each decade of life. Here’s how:

What You Can Do to Prevent Heart Disease

No matter what your age, everyone can benefit from a healthy diet and adequate physical activity.
 

  • Choose a healthy eating plan.  The food you eat can decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke.

    Choose foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium.  As part of a healthy diet, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, fiber-rich whole grains, fish (preferably oily fish-at least twice per week), nuts, legumes and seeds and try eating some meals without meat.  Select lower fat dairy products and poultry (skinless).  Limit sugar-sweetened beverages and red meat. If you choose to eat meat, select the leanest cuts available.
     
  • Be physically active.  You can slowly work up to at least 2½ hours (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity (e.g., brisk walking) every week or 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity (e.g., jogging, running) or a combination of both every week. Learn the American Heart Association's Guidelines for Physical Activity in Adults and in Kids.


    Additionally, on 2 or more days a week you need muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest shoulders, and arms). Children should get at least 60 minutes of activity every day.
     
  • It's never too early or too late to learn the warning signs of a heart attack and stroke. Not everyone experiences sudden numbness with a stroke or severe chest pain with a heart attack. And heart attack symptoms in women can be different than men.



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Last reviewed 4/2015


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