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Self-Care for a Healthier Heart

Life always seems to be hectic—from juggling work to extracurricular activities for the kids or caring for aging parents, it can seem impossible to find time for taking care of our own health. But it’s important to prioritize yourself sometimes, not only for your overall wellbeing, but to improve heart health.

Heart disease is a leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, but the good news is you can do a lot to protect your heart and stay healthy. Follow these four tips for a healthier you this American Heart Month.

Know Your Risk. Your individual risk for heart disease depends on many factors. While the risk factors for heart disease may be different for each person, preventing heart disease starts with knowing what your risk factors are and what you can do to lower them. For example, your risk of heart disease is higher if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, have a family history of early heart disease and more.

Stress Less. Stress can contribute to high blood pressure and other heart disease risk factors, and some coping mechanisms for stress are not healthy, such as smoking or overeating. Learning to manage stress can improve both mental and physical health. Healthy stress-reducing activities include practicing meditation, being physically active and talking to a professional counselor.

Eat Heart-Healthy. Choosing certain foods, such as fruits and veggies, while limiting others, such as saturated and trans fats and added sugars, contributes to a healthier you. While what you eat is important, how much you eat is also important—you should eat the appropriate number of calories for your body, which will vary based on sex, age and physical activity.

Get Up and Move. Regular physical activity can help you lose excess weight, improve physical fitness, lower many heart disease risk factors and help manage stress. However, how much and what types of physical activity are safe can vary from person to person and you should talk with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine. Remember, even modest amounts of physical activity can make a difference in your health.

Checking your blood pressure and cholesterol, quitting smoking and getting enough good-quality sleep are also important for a heart-healthy lifestyle. When we take care of our hearts as part of our routine self-care, we set an example for those around us to do the same.

UTMB Health’s Division of Cardiology is here to provide you with the best possible heart care. From non-invasive cardiology and interventional cardiology to heart failure, heart transplant and LVAD services, our providers provide the most appropriate care in every case. To learn more, visit

Tips sourced from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.