World Heart Day: Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy

World Heart Day is commemorated on September 29 every year.

The World Heart Federation created the campaign to educate and encourage people to improve their heart health as Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) kills 17.9 million individuals every year all across the world.

The heart beats approximately 2.5 billion times in a lifetime. That’s a hard-working muscle. It’s crucial to keep it strong and healthy, just like every other muscle in our bodies.

If you’ve been looking for ways to discuss heart health with your loved ones, now is the time.

In recognition of World Heart Day, here are few ways to maintain your heart health:

1. Avoid smoking or use of tobacco

Eliminating the use of tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco, is one of the best things you can do for your heart. Avoid secondhand smoke at all costs, even if you don’t smoke.

The heart and blood arteries can be harmed by the chemicals in cigarettes. Because the heart needs to work harder to pump adequate oxygen to the body and brain, as smoking causes the blood’s oxygen level to decrease, which increases blood pressure and heart rate.

However, there is good news. Within a day of stopping, the chance of developing heart disease begins to decline. The risk of developing heart disease is nearly reduced to half after a year of giving up smoking. 

No matter how much or how long you smoked, you’ll begin to gain benefits as soon as you quit.

2. Stay physically active

Regular and daily exercise can reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Your weight can be managed by exercise. Additionally, it lowers the probability of acquiring illnesses including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes that could strain the heart.

If it has been a while since you were active, you might need to gradually work up to these objectives, but in general, you should aim for at least:

  • 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking,
  • 75 minutes per week of intense aerobic exercise, like running
  • Two or more times of strength training per week


Even brief bouts of exercise are good for the heart, so keep trying even if you can’t accomplish the guidelines. Even five minutes of movement can make a difference, and tasks like house chores, gardening, taking the stairs, and walking your pet all contribute to your total. 

Although you don’t need to work out hard to achieve the benefits, but by increasing the duration, frequency, and intensity of your exercises will allow you to benefit more.

3. Eat a heart-healthy diet

A nutritious diet can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and protect the heart. A heart-healthy eating plan includes:

  • Legumes such as beans
  • Lean fish and meat
  • Dairy products with low or no fat
  • Whole grains
  • Wholesome fats, like olive oil


There are two examples of heart-healthy diets that you can implement on your diet such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan and the Mediterranean diet.


Don’t overindulge in the following:

  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • manipulated carbohydrates
  • Alcohol
  • Trans fat and saturated fat, which are both present in red meat and full-fat dairy products (found in fried fast food, chips, and baked goods)

4. Maintain a healthy weight

The risk of heart disease increases with weight gain, particularly in the midsection of the body. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes are just a few problems that can be brought on by being overweight and raising the risk of getting heart disease.


Using a person’s height and weight, the body mass index (BMI) can determine if they are overweight or obese. Being overweight is defined as having a BMI of 25 or greater and is typically linked to higher blood pressure, cholesterol, and a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.


Your waist circumference is another helpful measurement of your belly fat. A larger waist circumference increases the chance of developing heart disease if:

  • 40 inches (101.6 centimeters, or cm) for men
  • 35 inches (88.9 cm) for women


Any amount of weight loss is beneficial. Even a small weight loss of 3% to 5% can help lower blood sugar levels, lower triglycerides, and minimize the risk of type 2 diabetes. Even additional weight loss helps in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

5. Get good quality sleep

Lack of sleep increases the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart attacks, diabetes, and depression in individuals.

Adults typically require at least seven hours of sleep per night. Make sleep a top priority by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. With this, you can create and commit to a sleep routine. Make sure your bedroom is quiet and dark so it’s easier to fall asleep.

Ask your doctor if you need to be examined for obstructive sleep apnea, a condition that can raise your risk of heart disease, if you feel like you’ve been getting enough sleep but are still feeling fatigued all day. 

Symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea  includes loud snoring, brief breathing pauses while you sleep, and gasping for air when you waking up. If you’re overweight, obstructive sleep apnea treatments may involve decreasing weight or using a CPAP machine, which maintains your airway open while you sleep.

6. Manage stress

Some people use harmful coping mechanisms to deal with stress, such as binge eating, drinking excessively, or smoking. Your health can be enhanced by finding more effective stress-reduction techniques, such as exercise, relaxation techniques, or meditation.

7. Get regular health screenings

The heart and blood arteries can be harmed by excessive blood pressure and high cholesterol. You won’t likely be able to tell if you have these conditions without getting diagnosed for them, though. You can learn your numbers and whether you need to take action through routine screening.

Blood pressure Typically, regular blood pressure checks start early in life. To check for high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease and stroke, blood pressure should be taken at least once every two years beginning at the age of 18. 

You will likely undergo screening once a year if you are between the age of 18 to 39 and have risk factors for high blood pressure. A yearly blood pressure check is also offered to everyone over the age of 40.

Cholesterol levels At least once every four to six years, adults should have their cholesterol checked. Although testing for cholesterol typically begins at age 20, earlier testing may be advised if you have additional risk factors, such as a family history of early-onset heart disease.

Type 2 diabetes screening Diabetes can cause the risk of heart disease to elevate.  Your health care provider can recommend early screening if you have diabetes risk factors, such as being overweight or having a family history of the disease. 

Otherwise, starting at age 45 and repeating the test every three years, screening is advised.

If you have a problem like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes, your doctor may prescribe medications and suggest lifestyle adjustments. Be sure to follow a healthy lifestyle plan and take your medications as directed by your doctor.

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Picture of Alief Zolkopli

Alief Zolkopli

Marketing Manager, Teman Malaysia

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