Staying healthy

7 simple steps to a healthier heart

Heart health is something everybody should pay attention to, not just older generations. Check out 7 heart-healthy tips for avoiding heart disease.
October 16, 2023   |   4 minute read
Woman prepping food in a bright kitchen

Older adults are not the only ones who are affected by heart disease.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among Americans. Healthy habits today can help reduce your risk of heart disease in the long term. Many adults under 65 years of age already have warning signs of heart disease.

One of the most common heart diseases is high blood pressure, also called hypertension. 116 million U.S. adults now have hypertension, according to the Center for Disease Control. That can lead to heart disease if left untreated. Blood pressure readings of 130 over 80 are considered high blood pressure. For information about how to understand your blood pressure reading and more, visit

Rest assured that you are not powerless against heart disease. Yearly checkups and preventive care can help lower your risk and/or delay the onset of disease, reduce overall healthcare costs in the long term, and help you achieve your health goals. Call your doctor to set up an appointment or search the Find a Doctor tool to find a  provider that’s right for you.

Here are seven steps to help lower your risk of high blood pressure and other heart disease. 

  1. Limit refined sugar

It’s important to be aware of your sugar intake and limit it wherever possible. According to the American Heart Association, no more than 100-150 calories a day from added sugar is recommended. 

This equals about six to nine teaspoons. Don’t worry too much about natural sugars in fruits and low-fat dairy products. But look for ways to cut back on added sugars. Limit sweet drinks and processed foods. For context, one pump of sweetener in a flavored coffee drink has 20 to 60 calories, mostly from sugar. Try less flavoring, or coffee with a splash of milk. 

  1. Focus on fiber 

Your heart loves fiber! A fiber-rich diet can help lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. It can also help with weight loss. Choose whole grains such as whole wheat bread and brown rice. Limit refined grains including white bread and white rice. Berries, broccoli, and beans are also great fiber foods.

  1. Stand up

Staying active is an important part of caring for your heart health. Pay attention to the amount of idle time watching TV or sitting at your desk. If you can, stand and move every 20 minutes. Take phone calls or meetings while standing up or going for a walk. 


  1. Limit pain meds

Pain relievers such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and diclofenac can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke. That’s especially true if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. Try other ways to relieve pain such as gentle stretches if your back is hurting or massage your hands if they’re aching. If you continue to experience pain, check in with your doctor.

  1. Sleep time: get some

Don’t underestimate the importance of getting plenty of sleep. Research has tied lack of sleep to high blood pressure. Shoot for seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Avoiding caffeine after lunch can help you fall asleep faster and improve the quality of your sleep. A consistent nighttime routine can help signal your body when it’s time to sleep. Avoiding working, watching television, or using a computer in bed ensures your bed will signal rest.


  1. Control stress 

Stress can be harmful to the heart. Stress hormones make your heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels rise, which causes damage over time. Studies show that mindfulness meditation helps fight the negative effects of stress on the heart. Start with a simple breathing exercise: sit in a comfortable position and take 10 deep breaths. Or, simply spending time with loved ones or on your hobbies can also help relieve stress.

  1. Volunteer 

Volunteer for community events or charities that keep you moving and support a cause you believe in. Not only does volunteering give you a sense of purpose, but it’s also heart healthy. 

Want to understand more about your risk factors, where to get your blood pressure checked, and decode your test results? Our Hypertension page can help. And remember that you’re not alone in managing heart disease risk. LifeWise is here to support you on your journey to good health.

Share this post