Making Healthy Choices for Your Heart

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The picture above is my grandparents in 2005 with our oldest daughter. My grandfather had several heart attacks and two bypass surgeries when I was younger but went on to live many more healthy years before passing away from an unrelated infection. My grandmother passed away two years ago from cancer, and I miss her so bad it still makes me cry just to think of her!

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is women’s greatest health threat and the number 1 killer of women. In fact, WomenHeart says that women are 1.5 times more likely to die than men in the first year following a heart attack.

If, like us, you have a family history of heart disease, it’s an early wake-up call and an opportunity for you to take charge of your health. Everyone should have regular screening, as advised by your doctors, to check for potential heart risk factors. Keep track of your numbers and talk to your doctor about what targets you should aim for and how to get there.

These screenings are even more important for women, because heart disease risk factors (such as high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes) may be the only signs that many women experience before a potentially fatal heart attack.

In honor of Heart Health Month, Joy Behar and her daughter Eve are working with the makers of Bayer® Aspirin to challenge everyone to take the IamProHeart Pledge and commit to living a more heart healthy lifestyle. For each pledge made on the IamProHeart Facebook page, Bayer will donate $1 — up to a total of $100,000 — to WomenHeart to help fund educational programming and outreach for women living with and at risk for heart disease.

You’ll also get tips for creating a heart-healthy lifestyle and get access to tools such as the family healthy tree and heart risk calculator.

i am pro heart

Because we already know we’re at risk for heart disease, we’re focusing on being active and eating healthier, as a family. But of course, the challenge with a heart healthy diet is that different sources have different opinions about what is good or bad for your heart.

Here are a few things most people agree on, though:

  • Reduce your sodium intake. Salt is not necessarily bad and can be added to food for flavor once it’s on your plate, but the sodium found in most prepackaged foods is bad, bad, bad!
  • Eat lots of fruits and veggies. In general, the consensus seems to be that any fruits and veggies are good for your heart health, but I’ve read especially good things about leafy greens, avocados and tomato sauce (good news for my Italian dish-loving husband!).
  • Choose whole grains over white flour, pasta & bread.
  • Eat more whole, real foods with less preservatives and chemicals.

In fact, these things don’t just affect your heart health, but your health in general!

salad with homemade dressing

We’re already working on eating more homemade from scratch foods, and we eat lots of fruits throughout the day, but one area we’re lacking is on eating veggies, especially at dinner time (except for the aforementioned tomato sauce!). So my newest goal is to serve more veggie sides and salads (even though that’s one more thing to get ready for dinner!). The good news is my kids actually really like salad, and they love preparing them, so I’m trying to take advantage of that so that we’re eating more leafy greens throughout the week!

Besides improving your heart health, it’s also important to learn the warning signs of a heart attack and to not be afraid to call 911 for help if you experience any of them:

  • Chest pain, either crushing pain or tightness, pressure and discomfort that comes and goes
  • Pressure or pain in the jaw, upper back, arms, neck or shoulders
  • Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing
  • Nausea, dizziness, pain in stomach or abdomen
  • Feelings of anxiety, weakness or overwhelming fatigue
  • Clammy sweating, heart flutters, paleness

Read more about what to do if you experience these symptoms at

This is a sponsored post, but all opinions are 100% mine. I received compensation from the makers of Bayer® Aspirin to participate in the ‘Be ProHeart: Getting the Skinny on Your Family’s Heart History’ Blogger program.  They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say for the blog post written. Bayer HealthCare’s policies align with FTC guidelines.

Do you have a family history of heart disease? How are you being proactive with your own heart health?