If you’re not sure where to begin, there’s a great new tool called the Healthy Heart Score from the Harvard School of Public Health that will help estimate your 20-year risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Although cardiovascular disease is largely preventable, it remains the leading cause of death in the world.
This easy quiz looks at your lifestyle choices such as physical activity, smoking, diet, and alcohol, along with age and BMI, and calculates your Healthy Heart Score. Unlike many other health assessment tools, such as this one from OHSU, you don’t need to know your cholesterol levels or blood pressure. Based on your answers, it also provides suggestions for changes you can make to improve your score.
By knowing your Healthy Heart Score, you can take control of your future by making effective changes to protect your heart.
Once you know your score, work on making small but effective choices every day to keep your heart healthy.
- Small swaps in your diet – such as bringing lunch instead of buying it, or drinking water instead of soda – add up quickly. By paying more attention to your everyday choices, you won’t feel like you’re “on a diet.”
- If you smoke, make a plan to quit.
- Make it enjoyable and memorable. Increase your physical activity by taking more steps every day or planning your workouts for the week (schedule them on your calendar like an appointment). Try starting new holiday traditions with your loved ones – go ice skating, play tag football, or bundle up and go on a walk.
Make it enjoyable and memorable. Think about what choices you can make each day to protect your heart. Here’s to a healthy 2015!
Tracy Severson, RD, LD, is the dietitian for the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the Knight Cardiovascular Institute. She specializes in nutrition counseling for cardiovascular health and weight management.