It’s never too soon to be heart healthy—know why and how to take care of your heart in your late 30s to your early 50s.
One of the most important and powerful organs in your body, your heart is essentially a muscle (a little larger than your fist) that is responsible for almost everything that gives your body life. As your heart pumps blood throughout your body, it beats approximately 72 times per every minute of your life.
Because the foods you eat and the amount of exercise you do can dramatically affect the overall health of your heart, doesn’t it make sense to be as informed as possible about your heart health?
If you are in your late 30s or into your early 50s, there are specific steps you can take now to keep you heart healthy for years to come. Follow these health tips about how to make heart-felt changes in your life.
Your 30s are a juggling act with your career and family responsibilities, not to mention trying to focus on heart health. Balance these important aspects of your life by:
It is still a good time to make heart health your No. 1 priority and be mindful of:
When you look in the mirror, you may see a few wrinkles and a sprinkle of gray hair but what you can’t see is how aging impacts your heart. Now’s the time to:
Being physically active is important to prevent heart disease. Physical activity is anything that makes you move your body and burn calories. In fact, the most simple, positive change you can do to improve your heart health is to start walking. It’s free, its effective and you can easily make it part of a daily routine.
You just need 30 minutes in your day, five days a week. To make it easy, you don’t have to do all 30 minutes at once. You can divide your time into two or three segments of 10 to 15 minutes per day.
For overall cardiovascular health, the American Heart Association recommends:
For lowering blood pressure and cholesterol:
Don’t worry if you can’t reach your goal the first day; increase your time as you get stronger. Be proud of yourself for doing something positive about making a healthy change in your life.
Here are do-able options for easy – and often free – exercise:
What you don’t know, can hurt you. Here is an overview of what you need to know about the numbers that have a direct impact on your heart and the American Heart Association’s target goals:
Controlling your cholesterol plays an important role in heart health. Your test report shows your cholesterol levels in milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL). Your total cholesterol and HDL (good) cholesterol are among the many factors used to predict your lifetime or 10-year risk for a heart attack or stroke.
Goal: Your total cholesterol score is calculated by this equation: HDL + LDL +20% of your triglyceride level. A total cholesterol score of less than 180 mg/dL is considered optimal.
It is better to have higher levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Low HDL cholesterol means you are at higher risk for heart disease. Smoking being overweight or a sedentary lifestyle can lead to lower HDL cholesterol.
For heart health, you want your low–density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol level to be low. According to new guidelines from the American Heart Association, your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) number should no longer be the main factor in guiding treatment to prevent a heart attack and stroke. If you are taking statins, the guidelines indicate you do not need to get your LDL cholesterol level down to a specific target number.
Triglycerides are the most common type of fat in the body. Normal triglyceride levels vary by age and sex. A high triglyceride level, combined with low HDL cholesterol or high LDL cholesterol, is associated with atherosclerosis, the buildup of fatty deposits in artery walls. This buildup increases the risk for a heart attack and stroke.
Goal: Less than 120/80 mmHg.
Your blood pressure should be regularly checked and regulated. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, can be affected by your weight. Excess fat increases the work your heart has to perform to pump blood throughout your body, Lowering your body weight by even as little as 5% to 10% can lower your blood pressure and increase your heart health.
Goal: Less than 100 mg/dL
Goal: Greater than 18.5 but less than 25 kg/m2
*Goal: Women: 35 inches or less, Men: 40 inches or less
*If BMI is greater than 25 kg/m2
Women: no more than 1 drink per day
Men: no more than 2 drinks per day
(one drink = 4 oz. of wine, 1 oz. of liquor or 12 oz. of beer)
The good news is you are never too young – or too old – to take care of your heart. The time and effort you invest now will pay dividends to your overall health and wellbeing. A heart-healthy lifestyle will help you feel great and stay that way for many years to come.
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