1. Get moving.
Exercise helps keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check. It promotes weight management, which contributes to heart health as well as the prevention of other diseases. And it can boost your mood. Just 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise five days a week is a good goal to strive for. Use half your lunch hour for a brisk walk, and you'll hit that goal.
2. Don't smoke.
If you smoke, it's time to kick the habit. That's because smoking increases your risk for developing atherosclerosis—which refers to the buildup of fatty substances in the arteries. Even if you've been a longtime smoker, you can begin to heal the damage to your heart (and your lungs) by stopping now.
3. Take up meditation.
Research shows that meditation may lower blood pressure and contribute to an overall reduction in heart attack risk. Meditation, which typically uses deep breathing and quiet contemplation, is designed to ease stress and relax your mind. If meditation doesn't appeal to you, there are other ways to deal with stress. Consider yoga or tai chi—or just a simple deep breathing exercise. Lie down, or sit comfortably with your feet on the floor. As you envision a peaceful scene, inhale deeply and slowly, then exhale. Try to do this for five to 10 minutes each day.
4. Focus on whole foods.
A lot of information is out there about healthy diets. It's confusing to pick a direction. But here's something experts agree on: Eat as little sugar and as few processed foods as possible, and eat more whole foods, including fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish and whole grains.
5. Partner with your doctor.
Your doctor is a powerful ally in your efforts to be heart-healthy. If you've had an angioplasty, your doctor will talk to you about follow-up appointments. Be sure to keep those appointments. Regular blood pressure testing and other heart screenings will also keep you on track for your heart-health goals.