1. Aim for lucky number seven.
The next time you're tempted to stay up later than you should, remember how comfy that pillow will feel -- and how good a full night's sleep is for your heart.
In one study, young and middle-age adults who slept 7 hours a night had less calcium in their arteries (an early sign of heart disease) than those who slept 5 hours or less or those who slept 9 hours or more.
The type of shut-eye they got was important, too. Adults who said they got good-quality sleep also had healthier arteries than those who didn't sleep soundly.
If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at night, or if you don't feel refreshed after a full night in bed, talk to your doctor about how healthier sleep habits might improve your slumber.
2. Keep the pressure off.
That cuff squeezing your arm at every doctor's visit is important. It measures the amount of pressure flowing through your arteries with every heartbeat.
If your blood pressure gets too high, the extra force can damage artery walls and create scar tissue. That makes it harder for blood and oxygen to get to and from the heart. The heart has to pump harder and gets worn out faster. If it can't get enough oxygen, parts can start to die.
Get your blood pressure checked every 3-5 years if you’re 18-39. If you’re 40 or older, or if you have high blood pressure, check it every year.
Cut back on salt, limit alcohol to no more than one to two drinks a day, favor healthy eating habits (think fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein) manage your stress, and work out. These changes are often enough to bring your blood pressure back down into the normal range. If not, your doctor might recommend you also take medication.
3. Slash saturated fats.
To help your heart’s arteries, cut down on saturated fats, which are mainly found in meat and full-fat dairy products. Choose leaner cuts and reduced-fat options.
Also, totally quit trans fats, which are found in some processed foods. They drive up your “bad” cholesterol level. Check ingredient lists for anything that says “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” -- those are trans fats.
If it’s been 5 or more years since your last cholesterol blood test, you’re probably due for one.
4. Find out if you have diabetes.
Millions of people do and don’t know it. That’s risky because over time, high blood sugar damages arteries and puts you at risk for heart disease.
Your doctor should test your blood sugar if you are 45 or older, if you are pregnant, or if you're overweight and have other risk factors for diabetes.
If you find out that you do have diabetes, work with your doctor on your lifestyle (diet and exercise) and any medicine that you may need.
If you have borderline high blood sugar, also called prediabetes, take action now to turn things around.
One simple swap is to trade processed carbs (like white rice) for fiber-rich whole grains (like brown rice). Every positive change you make in what you eat and how active you are will help. Over time, you’ll be able to do more.
5. Move more.
To keep it simple, you can aim for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week of moderate exercise. That includes any activity that gets you moving around and breaking a slight sweat.
“If you're doing nothing, do something. And if you're doing something, do more," Lloyd-Jones says.
Also, pay attention to how much time you spend seated, whether it's at work, in your car, or on your couch at home. You want to cut that time down.
"We now know that even if you exercise for 30 minutes a day, being sedentary for the other 23 1/2 hours is really bad for your heart," says Monika Sanghavi, MD, assistant professor of cardiology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
Break up long periods of sitting, and stand or walk while doing things like talking on the phone or watching TV.
10 Tips for Better Heart Health
https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/prevention-15/heart-healthy/12-tips-for-better-heart-health?page=110 Tips for Better Heart Health