"I never thought it could happen to me."
That's how Rose Rench reacted when doctors told her she was having a heart attack. At age 46, Rench was bewildered when she suddenly couldn't catch her breath while out for a walk on a sunny spring day. "I was young, I was 130 pounds, and I'd quit smoking a month before. I was healthy. But I couldn't breathe."
Rench tells WebMD that she somehow drove herself home, but couldn't rest; her mind raced as she tried to gasp for breath. "I thought maybe I was having...
Does this mean we all have to start training for the Ironman? No. You can do anything physical that keeps your heart rate up for 30 minutes -- or 20 minutes if it’s high intensity -- 5 days a week.
Want ideas? Running. Biking. Rowing. In other words, “most things that end with –ing and that you can keep up for a few minutes,” Montgomery says.
If you’re not active now, check in with your doctor first to see if there are any limits on what you can do.
2. Stay active throughout the day.
A workout at the gym is a good start. But what’s going on for the rest of your day?
“If you’re sitting at a desk all day -- even if you hit the elliptical [cardio machine] that morning -- you’re still at risk for heart disease,” Montgomery says.
When you’re at work, build in breaks from being still. Get up and get your limbs moving and your blood pumping.
Montgomery suggests you take a conference call and answer emails while standing at your desk. You can also swap your regular chair with a balance ball, which keeps your core muscles engaged as you work.
If you check social media on your phone when you’re on a break, get up and pace around the room at the same time. You get the idea: Keep moving.
3. Go old-school with food.
“The way to eat optimally for your heart hasn’t changed in hundreds of years,” Montgomery says. The tried-and-true classics are still your best choices:
Fruits and vegetables
Whole grains, like brown rice and other unrefined carbs
Nuts, seeds, and legumes, such as chickpeas and lima beans