- DO NOT SMOKE: if you have never smoked, don’t start. If you do smoke, quit. You will increase your life by 5 years for every year you are smoke free.
- Enjoy a balanced, nutritious diet. Limit fat intake to between 15% and 30% of your total number of daily calories.
- Exercise regularly, 20 minutes 3-4 times per week, or a minimum of a brisk walk daily.
- Moderate your intake of alcohol. Guidelines by Health Canada suggest limits of two drinks per day…either 12 oz. Beer, or 5 oz. Wine or 1.5 oz. Spirits.
- Limit your intake of salt and caffeine. (No more than the equivalent of four regular cups of coffee per day.)
- Try to get 8 hours of sleep each night.
- Have regular check-ups with your physician. Early detection is the key to a successful solution.
- Keep a positive attitude and wear a smile… it takes only 22 muscles to smile, but 37 to frown.
- Make time for leisure activities such as reading, hobbies, sports, TV etc.
- Invest in CPR and AED education and training, and encourage your family and friends to do the same.
Exercising regularly can be one of the most beneficial things that you can do for your heart health. Performing physical activity helps you to live longer and allows your body to run and perform better in the long-term. It’s advised that everyone should be performing 150 minutes of exercise a week to maintain a heart-healthy lifestyle.
But after suffering a heart attack or a cardiac arrest it can be a daunting thought to begin exercising again. What’s safe to do? What should I focus on? Where do I start?
Although you may face these questions with uncertainty, the truth is that there is almost no disease that doesn’t benefit from exercise in some way. As such, you shouldn’t give up, sit around and do nothing. You should focus on ways that you can begin to strengthen your body and improve your overall heart function.
Benefits of regular exercise for the heart include:
- Strengthening your heart and cardiovascular system
- Improving your circulation and helping your body use oxygen better
- Improving your heart failure symptoms
Seek out a physician before you begin
Although we encourage you to exercise, we strongly recommend that before you do anything; you contact your physician to see what they recommend. They’ll understand your level of recovery and fitness level better than anyone else, and will be able to provide you with a detailed plan to begin exercising again.
Here are some questions that you should ask when you go to meet your doctor:
- How much exercise can I do?
- How often can I exercise?
- What types of exercises should I do?
- What activities should I avoid?
- Should I hire a personal trainer to exercise with me?
After you have met with your doctor, they may recommend that you should go through a rehabilitation program to teach you how to safely become more active. You can find a cardiac rehab program in any province at cardiachealth.ca.
General workout tips
- Focus on doing aerobic exercises when you begin working out again, rather than more complex movements like isometric exercises (pushups). Aerobic exercises are easier to perform and will help to make your heart stronger, while isometric could strain your muscles. Popular aerobic exercises include running, walking, and swimming.
- Look at the forecast before your workout to avoid humid or cold days. Cold weather can increase your blood pressure, interrupt blood flow to part of the heart and make blood clots more likely to form. Humid weather can tire you out much quicker and can interfere with your circulation. On days when the weather is too hot or cold, aim to workout inside instead.
- Make sure that you stay hydrated. It is important to drink water even before you feel thirsty, especially on hot days.
Starting to exercise
If your doctor has advised you that you’re all right to perform regular exercises instead of going to a rehabilitation center, we recommend that you slowly ease back into a workout routine. Everyone should perform 30 minutes of exercise a day, but it’s best if you go at a pace that you’re comfortable with; especially if you haven’t worked out in a long time.
Here is a simple workout that you can do anywhere.
Week 1 – 10-minute walk (Every second day)
Week 2 – 5-minute walk to warm up, a 10-minute walk, and 5-min cool-down.
Week 3 – 5-minute walk to warm up, a 15-minute walk, and 5-min cool-down.
Week 4 – 5-minute walk to warm up, a 20-minute walk, and 5-min cool-down.
Things to look out for
As you begin the transition back into exercising again, it’s important to remember to look for any symptoms of a heart attack during your workout. If you can, aim to workout with a partner for the first two months so that they can monitor you as you get back into the rhythm of going to the gym. While you workout both you and your partner should be conscious of:
- Any chest pain
- Weakness in your body
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Pressure or pain in your chest, neck, arm, jaw or shoulder, or any other symptoms that cause concern.
Exercising and making your way back towards a heart-healthy lifestyle will take time, so no matter what your results are initially; always aim to keep moving forward.
|2||Large fresh peaches|
|2 cups||Cooked chicken, chopped|
|1/2 cup||Thinly sliced Vidalia or red onions|
|1/2 cup||Low-fat poppy seed dressing|
|6 cups||Mixed salad greens, washed|
|1/2 cup||Walnuts, chopped, toasted|
- Chop 1 peach into 1/2” pieces; place in large bowl.
- Add chicken and onion; toss with dressing to coat.
- Add greens and walnuts to bowl and toss to coat. Mound salad on large plate.
- Cut remaining peach in thin wedges and place on top to garnish.
Recipes From Our Resident Expert, Marsha Rosen, RD
Here are some heart healthy recipes provided by Marsha Rosen, RD (Registered Dietitian). Marsha is Mike Salem’s sister and in addition to offering private nutrition counselling, Marsha provides group lectures, seminars and cooking demonstrations, and is a sought-after contributor to health-related publications.
If you have nutrition question for our dietician, you can email Marsha here…
Do you have a heart healthy recipe that you would like to share? Send your recipes to email@example.com
Understanding what types of heart-healthy foods to incorporate into your diet can be a confusing process. There are many articles online stating that certain foods or diet fads can benefit you; but who’s to know what is real and what isn’t? Fortunately for us, our Registered Dietitian, Marsha Rosen, has curated a list of heart-healthy foods that are highly beneficial for your diet.
Your list of foods for a balanced diet should include a variety of choices from all food groups.
Here are some excellent suggestions to begin with and build on.
10 Heart-Healthy Foods
Salmon – Salmon and other fatty fish like mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herring, trout and arctic char; are extremely good for heart health as they contain plenty of omega-3 fats, which can help to lower the risk of heart disease. It’s recommended that you aim to eat at least 2 servings of fish a week.
There are three types of omega-3 fats:
- ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)
- EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
- DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
All three types of omega-3 fats are important to have in your diet.
Other foods that contain omega-3 fats include:
- Margarine enriched with the omega-3 fat DHA – made with fish oil
- Yoghurt – fortified with Omega-3
- Soy beverage – Omega-3 fortified
- Soybeans – edamame
Oatmeal – Oatmeal is a high in soluble fibre, which can help to lower cholesterol. It’s recommended that you avoid eating instant oatmeal, as it often will contain sugar, and instead opting for traditional old-fashioned oats.
Berries – Berries such as strawberries and blueberries are believed to carry antioxidants that help to decrease blood pressure and dilate blood vessels. This is attributed to the benefit of compounds known as anthocyanins, and flavonoids.
Potatoes – Although potatoes can be more challenging to your heart healthy dining, if you don’t deep fry them, they can be extremely good for your heart. They’re rich in potassium and high in fibre (if the skin is left on), which again, can help lower blood pressure and the risk of heart disease.
Tomatoes – Similar to potatoes, tomatoes are high in heart-healthy potassium. Plus they’re a good source of the antioxidant lycopene. Lycopene is a carotenoid that may help to get rid of “bad ” cholesterol, keep blood vessels open and lower heart attack risk.
Nuts – Any nuts that you consume are good for your heart fibre (As long as they’re not salted or contain added oils or fats), and also contain vitamin E, which helps to lower bad cholesterol.
Legumes – Legumes such as dried beans, peas and lentils, are an excellent source of protein without a lot of added fat.
Broccoli, spinach and kale – When it comes to your heart health, you can’t go wrong with vegetables. Green vegetables like broccoli, spinach or kale can give an extra boost to your heart. These are high in carotenoids, which act as antioxidants and can free your body of potentially harmful compounds. They’re also high in fibre and contain lots of vitamins and minerals.
Flax seeds – Flax seeds as well as chia seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids and fibre content.
Avocado – These soft, tasty fruits will provide your body and heart with plenty of healthy fats. They’re composed of monounsaturated fats, high in antioxidants, and also contain potassium to help lower heart disease factors.
When following these healthy food options, remember that those that are higher in fat – nuts, seeds, fatty fish, oils, even though they are heart-healthy fats, can work against you. How can that be?? If your portions of these foods are too large it can lead to unwanted weight gain which again will contribute to a less healthy you. Follow Canada’s Food Guide for suggested serving sizes.
Bulgur wheat salad with Broccoli
|2/3 Cup||Bulgur wheat|
|300ml||Home-made or low salt stock|
|1 Cup||Cherry or baby plum tomatoes, halved|
|1||Baby Cucumber, diced|
|2 Tbsp||Fresh parsley or watercress|
|1 Tbsp||Fresh mint|
|2tsp||Fresh Orange Juice|
- Put the bulgur wheat in a small saucepan and cover with the stock. Bring to boil then simmer gently for 10 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, fluff with a fork, and leave to cool – the grains will absorb the warm liquid.
- Chop the broccoli finely and the parsley and mint leaves finely. If you have a blender, you could quickly blend them all together to save time. In a salad bowl, mix together the broccoli, tomatoes, onions, cucumber and herbs.
- Whisk together the oil, lemon and orange juice and stir into the bowl with the cold bulgur wheat grains. Add an extra squeeze of lemon or orange juice to taste.
Cover with cling wrap and it will keep in the fridge for 2–3 days. Add a squeeze of lemon or orange juice to refresh it.
This is great as a side dish but to make it a main dish, add chopped roast chicken or turkey, flaked poached salmon or reduced-fat Greek-style Feta cheese and serve with salad.
This recipe was found on the British Heart Foundation’s site. We have plenty of heart-healthy recipes, but if you’re looking for more, they’re a great resource.
Recipes From Our Resident Expert, Marsha Rosen, RD
Here are some heart-healthy recipes provided by Marsha Rosen, RD (Registered Dietitian). Marsha isMike Salem’s sister and in addition to offering private nutrition counselling, Marsha provides group lectures, seminars and cooking demonstrations.
If you have a nutrition question for our dietitian, you can email Marsha here…
Do you have a heart-healthy recipe that you would like to share? Send your recipes to firstname.lastname@example.org