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The thought of preventing heart disease might seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Making simple, healthy choices in your day-to-day life can go a long way towards improving your cardiovascular health and reducing your risk factors. 

Eat a Healthy Diet

Be mindful about what you eat, and aim to consume a diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and lean protein, like fish or grilled chicken. You may want to start with small, focused changes in your diet. For example, commit to adding one fruit or vegetable to every meal, or challenge yourself to eat the rainbow each week. This is an easy and colorful way to incorporate more fruits and veggies into your nutrition plan.

Get Moving

Standard guidelines recommend getting 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. Purposeful exercises, like hitting the treadmill or going for a bike ride, are important aspects of reaching this goal, but day-to-day movements can make a difference, too. Try parking at a distance when you reach your destination, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or adding simple exercises – like calf raises and counter push-ups – into your day. Even walking in place while watching television can boost your heart health!

Manage Stress Levels

Learning how to manage stress is good for your health. Chronic stress can cause an unhealthy increase in blood pressure and may lead to harmful coping mechanisms, such as smoking, alcohol consumption and stress eating. In times of high stress, try identifying healthier alternatives that work for you. Exercise, meditation, breathing techniques, journaling, and volunteering are all great options to explore.

If you smoke, quitting is one of the single best things you can do for your health. Talk to your healthcare provider about making an action plan for cessation. 

Take Medications as Directed

Always take your medications as directed, refill prescriptions on time, and keep an up-to-date list of current medications with you – especially when going to the doctor or dentist. It’s important to never stop taking a prescription without speaking to your healthcare provider first, even if you feel your condition is under control. If you have questions or concerns about your medication, contact your provider or pharmacist for advice. And if price becomes an issue, it’s okay to ask about lower-cost alternatives.

Visit your Primary Care Provider

Primary care is at the heart of wellness. In many cases, visiting your primary care, internal medicine or family medicine provider is the first step to finding answers to your questions, solutions to your concerns and identifying health problems that could otherwise go undetected. You should plan to see your primary care provider once a year for a routine wellness exam. If you are a Medicare recipient, you are entitled to one free wellness exam every year. During your appointment, your provider will instruct you on additional screenings that may be necessary based on your age, gender and family history. 


Our Heart Health Experts

Fairfield Medical Center and Fairfield Healthcare Professionals (FHP) offer access to a variety of talented, compassionate heart and vascular experts. From cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery to rehabilitation and specialty clinics, our team is here to support you on your journey to heart health from beginning to end.

Learn more about FMC’s Heart & Vascular Services.

Article originally published on Jan. 29, 2021
Article updated Jan. 8, 2024