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Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle to Keep Your Heart Healthy and Strong

February 8, 2023

With February recognized across the nation as American Heart health Month, it’s important to understand the leading causes of heart disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death among men, women and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States. It’s important to recognize what you can do to live a lifestyle that promotes good heart health, prevents illnesses and possible death.

“We all should know the do’s and don’ts when it comes to understanding what good heart health is all about,” said Dr. Columbus Batiste, regional chief of cardiology at Kaiser Permanente Southern California. “And for most people, it only takes a few steps to prevent heart disease, including choices when it comes to diet and lifestyle that have a great impact on one’s health.”

Julia Patterson, seen here along with her husband James, took steps to improve her heart health and encourages others to do the same.


Julia Patterson, 72, is a perfect example of what lifestyle changes can do to help your heart become stronger and healthier.

When Patterson was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat, she soon realized she had to make a choice: along with medication, begin eating a healthier diet with more fruits and vegetables and exercise regularly, or risk her heart condition deteriorating with potentially dangerous consequences. She chose the first option.

“I lost weight and began feeling more energized,” Patterson explained. “I was taking my health for granted. Now, I feel better, I don’t get tired as easily, my heart feels stronger, life is less stressful, and I’m more positive in general. Changing my lifestyle made all the difference!”

Patterson is not alone when it comes to the prevalence of  Americans suffering from heart conditions. Consider these facts from the CDC:

  • About 659,000 people in the United States die from heart disease each year – that’s 1 in every 5 deaths in 2020.
  • High blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease. Several other medical conditions and lifestyle choices such as diet, exercise and diabetes also are contributing factors.

Dr. Batiste offers the following advice to keep your heart healthy:

Eat right for your heart 

Heart-healthy food like fruits, vegetables, increased healthy plant proteins and whole grains will help keep your heart and blood vessels in good shape. 

Get your heart pumping

It’s recommended that you engage in 150 minutes of exercise a week, or at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days. If you can’t do all 30 minutes at once, do 10 minutes at a time. Brisk walking, swimming or cycling are especially good for the heart, but choose any activity you enjoy. Start at your comfort level and build up gradually. It’s always wise to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.

Maintain healthy weight

Lowering your weight by just 10 percent can make a significant difference in reducing your risk of heart disease. If you need to lose weight, learn ways to change your eating habits and be more physically active.

De-stress your life. 

Stress, anger, anxiety and depression may keep your blood pressure high and increase your risk of heart attack, stroke and other illnesses. 

If you smoke, now’s the time to quit

Smoking is bad for your health and is a leading cause of heart disease and death. It’s never too late to quit!

If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation

Drinking too much alcohol can raise your total cholesterol levels and your blood pressure. Limit alcohol to no more than one drink a day for women, or two drinks a day for men. A drink equals:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1 ounce of liquor

Kaiser Permanente offers additional advice on how maintain a healthy heart.