Learn and Plan | How to be heart smart
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How to be heart smart

Feb 1, 2024, 3:33:02 PM | Reading Time: 5 minutes

February is American Heart Month, so it’s a good time to focus on your health to help avoid potential medical issues, such as heart attacks and heart disease. About 697,000 people in the United States died from heart disease in 2020 alone—that’s 1 in every 5 deaths, according to the CDC. 1

The good news: you can actively prevent heart disease by making simple, sustainable changes.

Maintain a heart-healthy diet

The best way to reduce your risk for heart attacks and heart disease is to eat healthily. A heart-healthy diet includes high-fiber foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and certain fats (like those found in olive oil and fish), as well as foods that are low in saturated fat, added sugars, and sodium.

Control your portion size

How much you eat is just as important as what you eat. Using a smaller plate, filling that plate with more low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods, and keeping track of servings2 will help keep you from taking on more calories than you need.

Drink alcohol in moderation

Drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk of heart disease. A moderate amount of alcohol means one drink or less per day for women and two drinks or less per day for men, according to health.gov.

Avoid smoking

Smoking cigarettes can harm nearly every part of your body, including your heart and blood vessels, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). When cigarette smoke is breathed in, the toxic mix of chemicals can interfere with some pretty important stuff, like the delivery of oxygen-rich blood to your heart and the rest of your body. If you do smoke cigarettes, the CDC advises that quitting smoking will benefit your heart and cardiovascular system right away, as well as in the future.

Exercise regularly

Exercising regularly can improve your cardiovascular health to strengthen your heart and keep it healthy. To prevent health problems, it’s a good idea to spend at least 150-300 minutes of exercising each week, according to the World Health Organization.3 Being active will not only help to prevent heart disease, but it will also help you feel better, think more clearly, and perform daily tasks more easily.

Reduce stress

Excess stress can contribute to high blood pressure, strain your heart, and may increase your risk for heart attacks or strokes. Learning how to cope with anxiety and manage stress can improve both your mental and physical health. To reduce stress levels in your life try deep breathing4, spending time in nature, or speaking to a professional counselor.

Can I still get life insurance with past heart issues?

Chris Regione, Chief Underwriter for Sammons Financial Group, says it’s not a deal-breaker.

“Midland National has insured many people that have either a history of coronary artery disease, certain types of arrhythmias, or valvular disorders.”

If you’re thinking about seeking out life insurance coverage or have been putting it off, Regione’s advice is simple: don’t wait.

How much will life insurance cost me?

The cost of life insurance can still be affordable, even if you have a history of heart health issues. Regione says that the price is based on a variety of factors, like physician follow-up and complying with your doctor’s recommendations to keep heart problems under control.

“Those are some of the factors that help get you coverage at the best possible rate class,” added Regione.

This American Heart Month, do yourself and your family a favor – spend some time considering the ways in which you can better safeguard your heart with healthier living and your family’s financial future with life insurance.

What are the signs of a heart attack?

A heart attack can occur if blood flow to the heart is suddenly blocked. Some common signs of a heart attack include:

signs of a heart attack you may want to know


(source: https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/heart_attack.htm)


A heart attack can happen quickly with signs occurring right before, but sometimes they manifest slowly. Contact your doctor if you develop any of the symptoms above.

1 Source: “Heart Disease Facts” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, October 12, 2022

2 Source: “How Much Should I Eat? Quantity and Quality” NIH National Institute on Aging (NIA), February 28,2022

3 Source: “Physical Activity” World Healthy Organization, October 5, 2022

4 Source: “Reducing Stress in 10 Minutes and Improve Your Well-Being” National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Population Health, October 6, 2022

CDC.gov (www.cdc.gov) is your online source for credible health information and is the official website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Placement of a CDC.gov linking graphic or text link is to be used only as a marker to the CDC.gov home page. A link does not indicate any form of endorsement or approval from CDC, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives for all.

The opinions and ideas expressed by individuals providing testimonials are his own. The opnions are not indicative of future performance or success and may not be representative of the experience of other agents.


REV 2/2022