Making healthy lifestyle changes will help you prevent heart disease and recover more quickly from a cardiac procedure.
Which lifestyle changes can decrease my risk of developing heart disease?
Whether or not you will develop heart disease is also dependent on lifestyle factors that we can control. They are: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, stress, excessive alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, and being overweight.
To reduce your risk of heart disease, address lifestyle factors that directly impact these health indicators:
- Be smoke-free.
- Be physically active.
- Know and control your blood pressure.
- Eat a healthy diet that is lower in fat, especially saturated and trans fat.
- Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
- Manage your diabetes.
- Limit alcohol use.
- Reduce stress.
- Visit your doctor regularly and follow your doctor’s advice.
Where can I learn about making healthy lifestyle changes?
The Heart and Stroke Foundation offers several tools for making healthy lifestyle choices that support your heart health including:
- A free Healthy Weight Action Plan guide and healthy eating resources.
- A stress test and stress management resources.
- Resources on managing your emotions after a diagnosis of heart disease.
- Tips to get more active to prevent and treat heart disease.
- A Blood Pressure Action Plan Tracker to help you reduce your blood pressure.
- A free 30 days app to help people with heart disease risk factors get healthy.
Other organizations offer resources specific to risk factors. If you are concerned about:
- Managing stress: check out the Canadian Mental Health Association’s information on coping with stress and stress resources.
- Quitting smoking: visit our Quitting Smoking for Your Heart page and Quitnow.ca for tools and support to quit.
- Controlling diabetes: check out Diabetes Canada’s Taking Charge of My Diabetes and Staying Healthy with Diabetes resources.
- Lowering high blood pressure: visit Hypertension Canada’s resources – including trackers and apps – to help you with lowering your blood pressure.
- Reducing high cholesterol: read HealthLink BC’s guides to reducing high cholesterol and making low-cholesterol healthy food choices.
- Limiting alcohol consumption: check out the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s guide to limiting excessive alcohol consumption.
- Increasing physical activity: read ParticipACTION's on how physical activity fights heart disease better than weight loss and get ideas for physical activities proven to reduce high blood pressure.
- Losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight: read HealthLink BC’s Healthy Eating: Overcoming Barriers to Change and Healthy Eating: a Plan for Change articles.
How should I change my lifestyle after a heart attack, cardiac surgery or heart procedure?
After a heart event or procedure, you will be offered patient education materials upon discharge from hospital that will cover how to care for yourself at home and which community resources are available to help in your recovery. You may also be advised to follow certain dietary guidelines to enable recovery, such as limiting fluid and salt intake.
While you are healing, it is important to follow these guidelines and to seek advice from your doctor before resuming your normal activities such as driving, working, climbing stairs, exercising, or intimacy.
Once your physician has determined you are at a stage of your recovery where you can begin to get active again with cardiac rehab and work on your health, you can start slow and begin to incorporate some of the healthy habits described above.
The following resources have information about making healthy lifestyle changes: