5 Valentine’s Day tips for a healthy heart
Let’s hope that the pounding you feel in your chest today is love. But let’s face it, while it may not seem romantic, the best gift you can give a loved one is a healthy heart. So here are five simple things you can do to keep your heart ticking for many more Valentine’s Days to come.
1. Consider a home blood-pressure monitor. Preventing and controlling high blood pressure is the single most important thing you can do to ward off heart attacks and strokes. Yet one in five Americans with the problem don’t know they have it. So make sure you get your blood pressure measured by a health care provider at least once a year, and consider investing in a home blood-pressure monitor. If your levels are high, do something about. See our advice on lowering high blood pressure.
2. Get the right cholesterol-lowering drugs. While not everyone with high cholesterol levels needs drugs, many people do. In fact, the medications usually prescribed, called statins, are the most widely prescribed drugs in the country. But many people end up with expensive, brand-name versions like Lipitor or Zocor when generic versions of those drugs work just as well, and often cost far less. Our Best Buy Drugs analysis of statins found that they can vary in price from as little $12 a month to more than$500. So see our recommendations for statins. And read our other advice on the screening tests and lifestyle measures that can help improve your cholesterol levels.
See our Guide To A Healthy Heart for complete advice on preventing, detecting, and treating heart disease.
3. Know your heart age. Our online tool uses information such as your age, gender, weight, and cholesterol and blood-pressure levels to calculate your heart age, and estimate your risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years.
4. Recognize a heart attack. Don’t be fooled, heart attacks rarely look like they do on TV. Chest discomfort, not crushing pain, is the most common symptom, and it’s often accompanied by other vague symptoms such as nausea, shortness of breath, and pain in the back or jaw. For details, read our story Is It A Heart Attack? If you think you are having a heart attack, chew and swallow one 325 mg aspirin or four 81 mg low-dose (baby) aspirins and call 911. Regularly taking low-dose aspirin can also help some people prevent heart attacks. See if low-dose aspirin is right for you.
5. Find a good heart surgeon. If you have advanced heart disease you may need surgery. Our Ratings of heart bypass surgery groups can help you find a good one. And see our advice on the other steps you should take to diagnose and treat heart disease.