Know Your Heart!
Take this true-false quiz to find out how ticker-savvy you are.
Here are the answers to our heart health quiz. How'd you do?
1. False. Good news—it’s less work than you may think! The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least five days a week. Or try 25 minutes of more vigorous activity three days a week—think walking, swimming, or biking—broken up into 10- or 15-minute sessions.
2. True. The AHA recommends taking a daily low-dose aspirin if you’re at high risk of a heart attack or if you’ve already had one. Aspirin works to prevent blood clots, which cause most heart attacks. But be sure to check in with your doctor before starting any aspirin regime.
3. True. Fiber-rich foods include vegetables (peas, for example), beans, whole grains (such as oats) and fruits (raspberries are good). You can take a fiber supplement, but getting fiber through food (which also contains nutrients) is always the better choice.
4. False. In one study, people who slept more than nine hours per night were 37 percent more likely to have heart trouble than those who got just eight hours of slumber.
5. False. Butter has a lot of saturated fat and some trans fat (bad for your heart), but some hard margarine has even more trans fat. And trans fatty acids (made when hydrogen is added to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid) are not good for the heart. Spot trouble by checking labels for words like “partially hydrogenated oils.”
6. False. Symptoms can affect other parts of the body, such as your arms, back, neck, jaw and stomach. (In women especially, signs of heart attack may differ from the classic crushing chest pain.)
7. False. Studies show that people who drank full-fat dairy had no higher risk of heart disease than those who didn’t. Plus foods labeled “fatfree” can still have lots of salt or sugar (bad for your heart). The key is moderation.
8. True. Fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel are a great source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and they’re low in unhealthy saturated fats. Don’t like fish? Talk to your doctor about omega-3 supplements.
9. False. O.K., this was an easy one. Sure, there are studies showing that drinking a daily glass of red wine may lower your risk of heart disease, but the AHA suggests no more than two drinks a day for men and one for women (one drink is 12 ounces of beer, 4 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of 80-proof spirits). And too much alcohol in any form can be a danger. Some words of wisdom: If you don’t drink, don’t start. Experts say the benefits don’t outweigh the possible risks (high blood pressure, a rise in triglycerides, an increase in weight, possible liver disease).
10. False. Eating healthy and exercising can often improve your cholesterol numbers, but there are other factors too, including your genes. If your relatives (particularly your parents or grandparents) had high cholesterol levels, chances are you might too. (Note: if you were born with a gene called LTC4S, you may be four times as likely as the average person to develop heart disease later in life. Consult your doctor.)
11. True. Most heart attacks start slowly, usually with a slight discomfort, squeezing pain, or feeling of fullness in the center of the chest. The pressure can last for several minutes and can come and go. If you think this is happening to you, get checked out! Should it turn out to be a false alarm, you needn’t be embarrassed— you’re being properly vigilant. And anyway, you won’t die of embarrassment.
12. True. High-sodium diets have been tied to high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Keep in mind that large amounts of sodium are likely to be found in processed food and restaurant meals. Your goal: No more than 1,500 milligrams a day.
13. False. Actually, smokers are three times more likely than others to lose their lives to heart disease. Still hooked? Experts say you should look upon it as a medical problem, not a failure of will. Even if you’ve tried to quit before and failed, call the national stopsmoking hotline of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.800.QUIT.NOW, or check with your local hospital for smoking cessation programs.
14. True. In one study of 1,300 seniors, participants were 60 percent less likely to have heart problems if they consumed a daily cup of one of these veggies.
15. False. High levels of stress can put pressure on your heart and lead to an increased risk of heart disease. Boss driving you crazy? Up in the middle of the night worrying about bills? Fighting with your teenagers on a regular basis? Seek relief via exercise, meditation or even therapy. Your heart will thank you.