Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle Changes
If you have been diagnosed with a heart condition, one of the first things a Houston Methodist doctor will recommend is a series of healthy lifestyle changes. We provide the support and programs you need to make the change toward a heart healthy lifestyle.

Stop Smoking
The American College of Cardiology (ACC) estimates that smoking directly causes 400,000 deaths in the United States each year. Quitting smoking can rapidly improve your chances of enjoying a longer, healthier life. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about the Houston Methodist Smoking Cessation program.

Begin a Heart-Healthy Diet
Following a healthy diet can increase your longevity. Help your heart by eating more of these nutritional foods:
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole-grain and high-fiber foods
  • Fish and other lean proteins
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy products

A healthy diet can also help control cholesterol, which is a known contributor to clogged or hardened arteries. If you have any issues controlling your weight, visit Houston Methodist’s Weight Management Center for a free consultation.

Be Physically Active
Research shows that 30 minutes of moderate activity, five days a week, can lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Talk to your doctor about a physical activity routine that is right for your current state of health and fitness.

Control Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can weaken your arteries and lead to a number of serious heart problems, including heart attack and heart failure. To help control your blood pressure, keep your salt intake under control, limit your alcohol consumption and check your blood pressure regularly. Your ideal blood pressure should be 120/80 or lower.

Control Your Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy substance produced by the liver that can contribute to clogged and hardened arteries (atherosclerosis). The ACC recommends keeping cholesterol at a healthy level. It is important to monitor your health through an annual physical and be aware of your cholesterol information. The numbers below will help you understand what your cholesterol report means:

Total Cholesterol
  • Less than 200 mg/dL is desirable
  • 200-239 mg/dL is borderline high
  • 240 mg/dL and above is high

LDL (Bad) Cholesterol
  • Less than 100 mg/dL is optimal
  • 100–129 mg/dL is near optimal/above optimal
  • 130–159 mg/dL is borderline high
  • 160–189 mg/dL is high
  • 190 mg/dL and above is very high

HDL (Good) Cholesterol
  • Less than 40 mg/dL is a major risk factor for heart disease
  • 40–59 mg/dL; the higher, the better
  • 60 mg/dL and above is considered protective against heart disease


  • 150–199 mg/dL is borderline high
  • 200 mg/dL or more is high

If a sensible activity program and a heart-healthy diet are not enough to get your numbers to a healthy level, your doctor may talk to you about medication. To learn more, visit ACC’s CardioSmart High Cholesterol website and talk to your doctor.

Manage Your Diabetes
More diabetes-related deaths are caused by cardiovascular disease than any other condition. If you have diabetes, you are four times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than a non-diabetic person. Talk to your doctor about steps you can take to manage your diabetes or prevent it altogether.