Life’s Essential 8 for Heart Health — How Many Do You Have?

Managing your cardiovascular health is one of the most important things you can do to maintain overall health, in addition to preventing heart disease and stroke. Are you familiar with the American Heart Association’s Life’s Essential 8? These eight lifestyle factors and guidelines are key measurements for improving and maintaining your heart health.


1) Diet

Maintaining a healthy diet is one of the simplest changes you can make to improve heart health. Making healthy swaps for your favorite foods and reducing portion sizes are simple ways to improve your diet. Look for the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check Mark while shopping to find foods that can be incorporated into a healthier eating plan.


2) Exercise

Make regular exercise a part of your daily routine. Adults should get 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week, depending on lifestyle. If you’re having trouble finding ways to incorporate exercise into your everyday routine, making small changes like regular walks or taking the stairs are simple changes that can go a long way toward improving your heart health.


3) Stop Smoking

Smoking, including e-cigarettes and vaping, is a leading cause of heart disease, accounting for about one-third of all deaths from heart disease. If you haven’t quit already, make a plan with your doctor to stop smoking today. Even if you smoked for years, within one year of quitting, your risk of heart disease goes down by half.


4) Sleep

A good night’s sleep promotes healing, improves brain function and mood, and reduces the risk of developing chronic diseases. Most adults should get between 7-9 hours of sleep each night, with babies and kids needing even more, depending on age and other factors.


5) Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight has many benefits. Understanding how many calories you consume and burn each day can help you identify changes you want to make. Diet and exercise are important habits to build if you want to lose weight and improve heart health. Talk to your doctor if you are having trouble losing weight on your own.


6) Watch Your Cholesterol

Healthy cholesterol levels can reduce your risk for heart disease. Your doctor can measure blood cholesterol and help you understand what your levels mean. Tracking your cholesterol levels over time and taking steps to reduce high cholesterol can reduce your risk for heart disease. Physical activity, a healthy diet and not smoking are all ways you can contribute to a healthy cholesterol level.


7) Manage Blood Sugar

Over time, high levels of blood sugar can damage your heart and other organs. Your healthcare provider can take blood glucose readings at your next visit and provide recommendations for managing your blood sugar levels. If your blood sugar is currently at a healthy level, it is important to maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise to lower your risk of developing high blood sugar and its associated health problems, like diabetes and prediabetes.


8) Maintain Healthy Blood Pressure

Keeping your blood pressure within normal ranges can keep you healthier longer. A diagnosis of high blood pressure must be confirmed with a healthcare provider through regular blood pressure readings. They may prescribe medication or suggest certain lifestyle changes, like quitting smoking, to manage high blood pressure.


Heart Care of Warrensburg, located on the WMMC campus, brings specialized cardiac care to our community. Patients must be referred by their primary care provider. To find a provider, or make an appointment, please visit