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Connective Matters: Heart Health Steps Towards Preventative Care

Connective Matters is a series that focuses on your body’s overall function, how it works together, and the preventative measures you can take to manage your health proactively.

Your health is a crucial aspect of your body’s ability to function and keep you going every day. Your heart, being the center of your cardiovascular system, plays a crucial role in maintaining your overall health. Unfortunately, In the United States, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups. More than 1 in 3 women is living with some form of heart disease.

Taking preventative measures is essential to maintaining good heart function and another act of self-care we can all benefit from. Below are steps towards preventative care to help support your heart health.

Stay informed and proactive in your healthcare

Preventive care can begin the next time you meet with your healthcare provider. Have a shared discussion about the factors that can contribute to your heart’s health.

  • Monitor blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and diabetes screenings to catch any potential problems early.
  • Early detection and management of elevated blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes can prevent heart disease or its complications.
  • Know your family history of heart disease and discuss it with your healthcare provider to personalize your prevention plan. 
  • Follow your healthcare provider’s advice, including taking prescribed medications as directed to manage conditions affecting heart health.

Adopt a heart-healthy diet

Eating nourishes us, gives us energy and generally tastes delicious. Keeping a heart healthy approach to food can provide you with a better defense against cardiovascular issues.

  • Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins to provide essential nutrients for heart health.
  • Limit saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium, and added sugars to reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Incorporate healthy fats from sources like fish, avocados, nuts, and olive oil, which can help improve blood cholesterol levels.

Maintain a healthy weight

  • Balance calorie intake with physical activity to prevent obesity, a significant risk factor for heart disease.
  • Be aware of your body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference as healthy weight and risk indicators.

Engage in regular physical activity

Anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes of activity and exercise daily can get your heart pumping and your body moving. And your heart will love it.

  • Exercise helps control weight and reduces blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and the risk of type 2 diabetes, all of which are risk factors for heart disease.
  • Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. 
  • Add muscle-strengthening activities two or more days per week as recommended by health authorities to support your heart health.

Avoid smoking and limit alcohol consumption

Cigarette smoking and excessive drinking of alcoholic beverages can lead to many health issues including certain heart diseases.

  • Stopping cessation significantly reduces the risk of heart disease by improving heart function and blood circulation.
  • Limit alcohol intake to moderate levels (up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men) to avoid high blood pressure and other heart risks that arise due to excessive drinking.

Manage stress

Stress can affect your health in many ways, so look for ways to address and manage it. Managing stress can help reduce behaviors and factors that increase heart disease risk, like high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, physical inactivity, and overeating.

  • Engage in stress-reducing activities such as meditation, deep breathing, and physical activity.
  • Speak to your healthcare provider about managing your mental health as well as studies show that your mental health can also affect your heart’s function.

Sleep well

Sleep recharges your body, so working towards better sleep is another great way to support healthy heart function.

  • Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night, as poor sleep can increase the risk of high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes.
  • Establish a regular sleep schedule and a relaxing bedtime routine to improve sleep quality.

Taking these preventative measures can significantly reduce the risk of developing heart disease. It’s about creating a balanced lifestyle supporting heart health and overall wellbeing. 

Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team, February 2024

Read more

Connective Matters: About Your Heart


Center for Disease Control (CDC). Prevent Heart Disease. cdc.gov. March 21, 2023 https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/prevention.htm#:~:text=Eating%20foods%20high%20in%20fiber,prevent%20or%20help%20control%20diabetes.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Heart Health for Women. acog.org. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/heart-health-for-women#:~:text=Lack%20of%20physical%20activity%20can,of%20heart%20disease%20and%20stroke

The Mayo Clinic. “Strategies to prevent heart disease”. www.mayoclinic.org. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/heart-disease-prevention/art-20046502

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