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Even if it's not January 1st, there is one resolution we can all agree on: Taking better care of our hearts is something we can all make a priority. 

Lifework is committed to helping prevent occurrences that often ensue after sudden cardiac. In that spirit, here are seven things you can do to start taking good care of your heart and enjoy a long, healthy life.

  1. Maintain a healthy weight. As portion sizes at our favorite restaurants have increased, unfortunately many of our waist sizes have followed suit. Try to substitute carrot sticks for cookies, and fruit for potato chips. You can indulge in your favorite goodies occasionally, but make it a habit to increase fruits and vegetables in your diet.
  2. Get some exercise. You don’t need to buy a gym membership to get physical. A brisk 30-minute walk is very beneficial for heart health. Try small things to get you into the habit of moving for 30 minutes per day, such as walking in place during TV commercials, walking outside, or on a treadmill for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the afternoon. Do this at least 5 days per week and you’ll notice not only an increase in your energy level, but a decrease in waist size.
  3. Quit smoking. We all know that smoking is very detrimental to having a healthy heart. If you smoke, resolve that today is the day you quit for good. Yes, it’s very hard to do. So, don’t do it alone. Enlist the support of friends and family members, or use the services of a clinic. Your doctor can give you recommendations as well. 
  4. Reduce salt intake. Having high amounts of salt in your diet has been linked to the onset of high blood pressure. High blood pressure has been linked to the onset of heart disease. Reducing your daily salt intake is another good way to prevent heart disease.
  5. Schedule a yearly checkup. Heart disease is something that can start, and progress, at any age. Heredity is often a factor in this. Make it a regular practice to visit your doctor once a year for a full physical. Not only can the doctor detect possible irregularities with your heart, but there is a whole host of other diseases that can be detected early, saving you from a major health problem. 
  6. Drink more water. This is something simple that you can do, but it makes a big difference health-wise. Your heart can suffer when other diseases invade your body, such as diabetes. Proper hydration helps your overall health. Carrying a bottle of water with you and drinking from it during the day, and refilling it when it’s empty, is something everyone can do.
  7. Control cholesterol. Eating foods high in saturated fat can lead to high cholesterol. Substituting red meat with lean chicken or turkey with the skin removed can help keep your cholesterol at healthy levels, which is important for heart health. Fruits, veggies, whole grains and fat-free dairy products will help as well.

Some of these best practices for having a healthy heart will be new for you, or maybe a re-start. Be patient with yourself if you slip-up and sink back into old habits. When that happens, resolve to do better the next time you have a decision to make about food selection, or any of the above practices. Give yourself credit for each little victory you have as you take better care of yourself, and your heart. You can do this!