HomeHealth TopicHeart

7 Lifestyle Tweaks for a Healthier Heart

By making some changes to your diet and exercise routine, you may lower your risk for heart disease.

Marisa Taylor KarasMera Goodman, MD, FAAP
Published on November 17, 2022

Heart disease is a leading cause of death for American men and women, making up about 1 in every 5 deaths. 

Fortunately, there are many ways you can change your lifestyle that may help reduce your risk for heart disease.

“Even if you have ‘bad genes’ for heart disease and high cholesterol, what you do and how you live can have a huge impact on your outcome and on your health,” says Paul Knoepflmacher, MD, Internist with Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.


High Lp(a) Is an Inherited Heart Risk

1 in 5 Americans has high Lp(a), which can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke by 2-4x

Novartis Image 2

2/23 262613

What are 7 ways to lower your risk of heart disease?

Here are some tips from the experts to boost your health health, including:

  1. Minimize your salt intake. Salt-heavy diets may increase your blood pressure, which may put a strain on your heart over time. Steering away from processed, packaged, and restaurant foods —and instead focusing on fresh foods — may help you reduce your sodium intake.

  2. Eat more fruits and vegetables. The American Heart Association recommends that you eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.  Doing so may help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 13 percent, or more. Plus, fruits and vegetables are good sources of potassium and fiber, which may help manage your blood pressure and cholesterol, according to Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, Nutritionist in New York City.

  3. Lose weight. “Being overweight or obese puts a strain on your heart,” says Dr. Knoepflmacher. “It leads to increased risk of diabetes [and] high blood pressure, both of which are major factors and risks for heart disease.” Talk to your provider about ways that you can get to a healthier weight.

  4. Limit saturated fat. The American Heart Association recommends that you get no more than 5 or 6 percent of your total calories from saturated fat. To do this, you can switch to low-fat or non-fat dairy products and leaner cuts of meat.

  5. Incorporate exercise into your routine. Regular exercise may improve your heart and lung function. Aim for moderate-intensity workouts like brisk walking, jogging, or cycling for at least 30 minutes five days a week. Always check with your doctor to better understand which physical exercises are safe for you.

  6. Reduce stress. Stress may actually cause your heart rate and blood pressure to rise temporarily. Too much stress in your life can be another risk factor for developing heart disease. Try to manage your stress by getting enough sleep, making time for friends and family, or doing yoga or breathing exercises.

  7. Stop smoking. Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease, because it narrows your blood vessels and stresses your cardiovascular system. If you quit, heart health may start to improve right away. “The health benefits of stopping smoking commence immediately,” says Dr. Knoepflmacher.  That said, prolonged smoking may leave some chronic changes in your cardiovascular system, so it's much better to never start. 

The bottom line

Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the U.S., but you may be able to lower your risk by making lifestyle changes. Some of these include reducing salt from your diet and eating more fruits and vegetables, losing weight, and limiting saturated fat. You can also manage your stress, quit smoking, and get more exercise.

Additional Medical Contributors (5)
  • Paul Knoepflmacher, MDDr. Knoepflmacher is a clinical instructor of medicine at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, where he also maintains a private practice.
    • Antonella Apicella, RDNAntonella Apicella is a registered dietitian at the Lenox Hill Hospital Outpatient Nutrition Program.
      • Joan PaganoJoan Pagano is an exercise physiologist in New York City.
        • Satjit Bhusri, MD, FACCDr. Bhusri is an attending cardiologist at the Lenox Hill Heart & Vascular Institute and an assistant professor of cardiology at Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine.
          • Frances Largeman-Roth, RDNFrances Largeman-Roth is a nutritionist and cookbook author in New York City.


            American Heart Association. (N.D.). Fruits and vegetables serving sizes infographic

            American Heart Association. (2021). Saturated fat

            View All References (5)

            American Heart Association. (2016). Shaking the salt habit to lower blood pressure

            American Heart Association. (2021). Stress and heart health

            Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Heart disease facts.  

            Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (N.D.). Smoking and cardiovascular disease.

            Wang, Dong D., et al. (2021). Circulation. Fruit and vegetable intake and mortality: Results from 2 prospective cohort studies of US men and women and a meta-analysis of 26 cohort studies.

            GoodRx Health has strict sourcing policies and relies on primary sources such as medical organizations, governmental agencies, academic institutions, and peer-reviewed scientific journals. Learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate, thorough, and unbiased by reading our editorial guidelines.

            Was this page helpful?

            Subscribe and save.

            Get prescription saving tips and more from GoodRx Health. Enter your email to sign up.

            By signing up, I agree to GoodRx's Terms and Privacy Policy, and to receive marketing messages from GoodRx.

            Wordmark logo (w/ dimension values)
            GoodRx FacebookGoodRx InstagramGoodRx Twitter
            Legitscript ApprovedPharmacyBBB Accredited Business
            provider image
            Welcome! You’re in GoodRx Provider Mode. Now, you’ll enjoy a streamlined experience created specifically for healthcare providers.