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Whether you're awake or sleeping, your heart never rests. Its job is to keep your other organs functioning, and it does so by continuously pumping about six gallons of oxygen-rich blood throughout your body. It makes sense to try and keep it in tip-top shape.

How can you keep your heart healthy? Some factors that influence heart health you can't change – age or genetics. But, in many cases, you can take control and reduce your risk of developing heart disease, or, if you have heart disease, prevent further complications.

Heart-Healthy Eating

What you eat has a big effect on your heart. Here are a few simple tips you can use to eat with your heart in mind:

  • Eat a diet that contains high-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains and nuts.
  • Limit your intake of foods that are high in saturated fats and cholesterol, such as red meat and egg yolks.
  • Replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats from plant and fish oils.
  • Restrict your use of salt.

Heart-Healthy Exercise

Keep a healthy body weight by balancing the calories you consume when eating with the calories you burn during exercise. Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity most days of the week (60 minutes is even better). Exercise helps reduce and maintain your weight. It also helps you maintain healthy blood pressure and reduces stress, which can have a harmful effect on your heart. Learn more about Atrium Health's Wellness Center.

Take Care of Your Heart

Here are a few more tips and resources for a healthy heart:

  • Don’t smoke, and if you do, make a plan to stop and stick to it. The chemicals in tobacco harm your blood cells and have a negative effect on the function of your heart and blood vessels.
  • Get regular checkups to make sure you are in good health. A health screening includes checks of your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Your doctor also may check your blood sugar levels to see if you’re at risk for diabetes.
  • Live Healthy Chronic Disease self-management program: A six-week program with a single 2.5-hour workshop each week to help you live a healthier life even with a chronic disease. Call 704-403-9250 for more information.
  • Body mass index (BMI) calculator.