THE 3-MINUTE HEART RISK QUIZ.
Calculate your health with this back-of-the-envelope equation from AARP and the American Heart Association
February is American Heart Month, and AARP has worked with the American Health Association (AHA) for a deep dive into crucial numbers that determine your cardiovascular health. Decoding them and then taking steps to improve your heart health may save your life. To run the numbers, you’ll need the results of your last checkup (always get this data in writing and keep it on file). You’ll need your current weight, too. Put some key figures into this handy calculator to see where you fall on the cardiac-risk spectrum.
Don’t like your result? We offer ways you can improve your scores. Think of the whole process as one big numbers game. Winning means a long, healthy life.
Pick just one of the last five measurements to improve. “They’re all linked,” says Donald Lloyd-Jones, M.D., chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. (Although if you smoke he says, quitting should be your first priority.). Then make one small change, like drinking water at dinner instead of soda, to help reduce that number. When it becomes a habit, move on to another. “Small changes have big results,” Lloyd-Jones says. Here’s where to focus:
Stabilizing “At a minimum stay weight-stable,” Lloyd-Jones says. “The real problem four our heart health comes when we continue to gain weight. I really try to put a ceiling for my patients.” Once they stabilize, it’s time for strategies to begin losing.
Moving The AHA recommends 150 minutes of moderate activity every week. That works out to 30 minutes, five days a week. And you can break that up into three 10-minute intervals if you’d like, says Jordan Metzl, M.D., a sports medicine specialist. What matters is raising your heat rate during those 10 minutes.
Sleeping Metzl calls sleep the most important activity of your day. “It not only helps things like weight control and blood pressure, it makes everything easier tomorrow: your alertness, not craving junk food, how much you want to move-all of it.”
Eating real food “You need to get back to choices that look like whole foods,” says Lloyd-Jones. “A salad with lean protein and dressing on the side is a when-all-else fails choice.”
Mike Zimmerman writes regularly for AARP, Men’s Health and others.
AARP BULLETIN/Real Possibilities
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