February Heart Month — 10 Healthy Heart Tips • Cardiovascular Network of Canada — CANet

February Heart Month — 10 Healthy Heart Tips

Up to 80% of premature heart disease and stroke cases are preventable through healthy lifestyle behaviours and habits. Here are 10 tips to help strengthen your heart health:

1. Add plant foods to your diet.1

Focusing on what you CAN’T eat isn’t always an effective way to alter your eating habits. The recently published “Portfolio Diet” is an evidence-based eating plan centered on what you can ADD to your menu. The diet incorporates nuts & seeds, plant protein, fiber, plant sterols, and oils – all of which help to lower your cholesterol and your risk of heart disease. Click here to access the Portfolio Diet info-graphic.


iStock 14626594882. Get moving.2

When done regularly, moderate- and vigorous-intensity physical activity lowers your blood pressure and improves your blood cholesterol. A nutritious diet and physical activity in combination can help you to maintain a heart-healthy weight.


CANet Heart Month 03 Stop Smoking

3. Stop smoking.3

Tobacco use increases your risk of developing heart disease and stroke. Smoking contributes to plaque buildup in your arteries, increases the risk of blood clots, reduces the oxygen in your blood, and makes your heart work harder. The benefits of quitting smoking begin to take effect immediately after your last cigarette and within 24 hours your chances of having a heart attack start to go down. Talk to your healthcare provider for help on quitting.


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4. Manage your weight.3

Carrying extra weight on your body can contribute to considerable heart challenges. Canadians who are overweight are at greater risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, and are more likely to have heart disease than those who aren’t considered overweight by a clinician. The actions to maintain a healthy weight aren’t the same for everyone; however, a great start is to incorporate “Portfolio Diet” foods into your nutrition intake and get moving.


CANet Heart Month 05 Yoga

5. Manage your stress.3

Stress can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke, and lead to depression and anxiety. That’s why it is essential to recognize and manage stress. Consider self-care tools and methods such as yoga, meditation, breath work, and journaling to de-stress. The following link provides excellent tips on reducing stress: “Manage your stress”.


CANet Heart Month 06 Sleep

6. Get enough sleep.4

Sleep is an essential part of keeping your heart healthy. Researchers believe sleeping too little causes disruptions in underlying health conditions and biological processes, including blood pressure and inflammation. If you don’t sleep enough, you may be at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, no matter your age or other health habits.


CANet Heart Month 07 Stretch

7. Reduce sedentary behaviour.5

With an influx in remote work environments, more people have increased their sedentary time. Research has suggested that even after adjusting for physical activity, sitting for longer periods is associated with heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It’s important to move throughout the day. Some tips? Park farther away from the office and take a few short walks throughout the day. Working from home? Walk up and down the stairs several times and take a walk around your neighbourhood.


CANet Heart Month 08 Know Your Numbers

8. Know your numbers.

Keeping your blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides in check are vital for good heart health. Take steps to reach and maintain those levels. Learn the optimal levels for your particular demographic and remember to schedule regular check-ups with your doctor.


CANet Heart Month 09 Alcohol Cut Back

9. Less alcohol is better.6

There is a continuum of risk associated with weekly alcohol consumption – drinking 7 or more standard drinks per week increases your risk of heart disease and stroke significantly. According to Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health, 0 drinks per week has benefits, such as better health, and better sleep. Each additional standard drink increases the risk of alcohol-related consequences.


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10. Get social.7

According to a research study performed on 479,059 individuals from the UK Biobank, social isolation and loneliness are associated with increased risk of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and stroke. In addition, social isolation is related to elevated mortality after the incidence of AMI or stroke. Make time to catch up with friends over coffee or via video call, or strike up a conversation with a stranger during your next outdoor walk!