Seven steps to heart health


Even small changes can add years to your life and life to your years.

If you’re over 20 years of age and an American, you have a one in four chance of dying of a heart attack.1 None of us want to believe we’re at risk. We’ve adopted a naive outlook toward our risk for heart disease that prevents us from adopting healthier, risk-lowering behaviors. As a result, we don't usually address heart health until after a heart attack. And that’s often too late.

At GuideStone®, we strive to educate and equip you with resources to prevent and handle whatever challenges may threaten your well-being. Prioritizing your physical health is important, so here are seven simple changes you can make to reduce your risk for heart disease.

Seven Steps to Ideal Heart Health

  1. Don't smoke. Avoid secondhand smoke whenever possible.
  2. Maintain a healthy weight. Talk with your doctor to diagnose precisely what your body mass index is. If you have a BMI of 30 or more, you could reduce your risk for heart disease by losing weight. To have ideal cardiovascular health, shoot for a BMI of less than 25.
  3. Engage in regular physical activity. Your goal is at least 2½ hours of moderate-intensity or 1¼ hours of high-intensity exercise every week. Not only will you improve your heart health, but you'll boost your immunities, lower your risk for chronic disease and improve your sleep and self-esteem.
  4. Eat a healthy diet. Eat a wide variety of nutritious foods every day, including fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Keep unhealthy fats, sugar and sodium to a minimum.
  5. Manage your blood pressure. For ideal heart health, your blood pressure needs to be below 120/80. Stress can affect your blood pressure, so take time each day to slow down and count your blessings instead of your challenges.
  6. Take charge of cholesterol. Ideally, your cholesterol should be less than 200. Keeping track of your cholesterol intake will make you aware of how to balance it out.
  7. Keep blood sugar (or glucose) at healthy levels. Your fasting blood glucose should be less than 100, so monitoring this number is critical.

What’s your risk?

Resources such as the American Heart Association (AHA) My Life Check website2 can help assess your risk for heart disease. Start by getting your heart health numbers — cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose — and learn what they mean. Then strive to get as close to “ideal” as you can.

“Ideal” may feel like an impossible dream, especially if some of your risks come from genetics instead of unhealthy behavior. But every step toward optimal health can lower your risk. Remember, small changes add up. Even small reductions in your risk levels can give you a longer, healthier life that’s free of disease.

With these preventive tips in mind, we hope it’s clear that we care about you and your family’s well-being. Check out our Wellness Hub for more heart health information, among other ways to improve your holistic wellness.

1Healthline, 2020

2AHA My Life Check

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