Heart Smarts

Aug 1, 2005
Outside Magazine
heart health

As tempting as it is to stick to a business-as-usual-diet—i.e., eating whatever you want whenever you want—don't give in. If you're over 30, poor nutrition may be your undoing, regardless of how fit you are. To keep your ticker clean, healthy, and strong, follow the decade-by-decade guidelines below, compiled with help from the American Heart Association and cardiologists Paul D. Thompson and David Cannom. Hopefully, you'll live to celebrate it.

»IN YOUR TWENTIES Limit your intake of saturated fats—found in whole dairy, fried foods, and fatty cuts of meat, to name a few—to 7 percent or less of total calories, and stay away from trans-fatty acids, which are used as preservatives in many packaged foods and may actually raise LDL cholesterol levels. // Check your cholesterol and blood-pressure levels at age 21. // Stay lean with help from a five-day-a-week, 30-to-60-minute cardiovascular workout.

»IN YOUR THIRTIES Stick with the same plan from your twenties. // Have your cholesterol checked every three years. // If your LDL cholesterol number surpasses 100, Cannom recommends considering a cholesterol-reducing drug to help lower that number.

»IN YOUR FORTIES Cannom suggests a maximal treadmill stress test in your early forties, to see if there's any blockage developing. // Check your blood pressure and cholesterol every two years. // Thompson advises taking 81 milligrams (a baby dose) of blood-thinning aspirin daily.

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