heart health exercise

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?

Your risk of developing heart disease is dependent on four factors you cannot change: your age, sex, family history and ethnicity, as people of South Asian and Aboriginal descent have a higher risk.

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:

Other organizations offer resources specific to risk factors. If you are concerned about:

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: