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Eat Smart for a Healthy Heart

Updated on August 13, 2016
Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe has been eating healthy foods for a couple of years, ever since she had open heart surgery to fix a hole in her heart.

Here's a photo of an actual human heart

A life-changing decision

Did you know that heart disease is the number one cause of death of women? If you and your family have a history of heart disease, it's never too late to kick heart disease with a headstart. This coming February is the national heart disease month, when famous celebrities parade in red for fashion shows. If it's a real concern in your family, you can change your lifestyle by eating healthy foods and living a healthier lifestyle with exercise to prevent it. You don't have to change your eating habits and diet.

Let me tell you something about myself. A little over two years ago, during a routine physical from my family doctor, she told me about the hole in my heart. She had concerns about it and referred me to a cardiologist. I knew all my life that I was born with an irregular heart and didn't know about the hole in my heart that somehow grew bigger as I aged. After a consultation with my cardiologist on the hole size, I met with two heart surgeons about the process. So I knew I needed to have it done anytime in 2012, since it was a life-altering decision. When I was thirty-six years old, I had open heart surgery to fix that hole in my heart.... in which would save my life, years down the road, from having a stroke or a heart attack. Three hours in surgery, one week hospitalization, and two months of recovery time with follow-ups with my cardiologist, my heart healed and mended real well and I never felt better. Since then, I've changed my diet a little bit.

During my recovery time, I walked around the parking lots of my former apartment, when the weather was cooperative. During rainy days and winter, I walked down the hallway inside of my apartment. I started out slow and progressed to do more laps, every afternoon. Even after my surgery, I continue to walk outside or inside. (Since I've moved, it's going to be tricky. But I'll be walking to my local gym, a 10 minute commute, after I join and sign up for classes this weekend, if the weather's cooperative as well.)

So whether you had any kind of heart surgery or not, this helpful and healthy tips can change your life and save your heart in the long run.

Healthy heart quiz

What would you do for a healthy heart?

See results

Doctors recommend that taking baby aspirin is better for your heart health

Cucumber salad with garlic dressing

Salad poll

Do you eat salad as a side dish or a main dish?

See results

Baby aspirin and salads are the ways to go to prevent heart disease

If you use aspirin or ibuprofen for any kind of pain, you can add baby aspirin to your regime to kick that curb to the curb. You can use any brand with the heart on the box at any pharmacy or grocery store. If not on sale, you can use coupons or save money with the generic brands, which would work well, too. And you don't have to worry about overdoing it, since it's a low dosage. I average, one to three a day.

When my mother was sick last year, she was on a daily baby aspirin regime, since she had Congestive Heart Failure among other things. She also changed her eating habits, before she died six months ago, after she fought a year-long battle. Baby aspirin helped her live a little longer with her other medicines. She also went on a no-salt/low salt diet for a year, too.

Everyone loves a salad. There's a variety of them you can make and spice things up. There's nothing wrong with going green and doubling on your fruits and veggies. You can make them at home with the essentials of lettuce, tomatoes, your favorite vegetables, salad dressings and toppings. Or you can buy the packaged fresh salad mixes that's available at your local grocery market. A real good deal, if it's on sale for a buy one get one free, or you can get two for a real low price. All you have to do is add the toppings, other veggies, and you're good to go! Of course, you can't go wrong at the salad bar at your local restaurants or grocery stores, if they have it. I love to splurge on a grocery salad bar, every now and then by adding some egg, some meats, and other ingredients for a perfect lunch. You can have a small side salad with your dinner, or have it alone for lunch and supper.

Next week, I'll have more healthy food suggestions to add to your list. What's your favorite salad and toppings?


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    • Kristen Howe profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristen Howe 

      2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Bill, thanks for stopping by and commenting. So glad you and your heart is healthy.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great information, Kristen! I had to stop and think about my heart. Last time I had a checkup it was healthy. I just checked my's still beating....all systems are go for today. :)

    • Kristen Howe profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristen Howe 

      2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks Mike! So glad your wife has a healthy heart, my friend. I'm glad to be helpful and informative from my past experience to you and other hubbers.

    • Readmikenow profile image


      2 years ago

      Excellent article. I enjoyed reading it. You provided some very good information. My wife just recently had a check-up and all is good with her heart. A holiday wish come true.

    • Kristen Howe profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristen Howe 

      3 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Bill, thanks for stopping by and sharing your comments about your PFO. I'm glad you're doing fine to stay healthy for your heart. Good for you, my friend! Thanks for your kind words.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Kristen. About 10 years ago I was diagnosed with a PFO (Patent Foramen Ovale), which is essentially a small hole between the upper atrial chambers. I didn't have any symptoms but my doctor heard a murmur and off to the cardiologist I went. Many tests later I was told to take a baby aspirin daily and continue doing what I do everyday. They felt trying to fix it might do more harm than good. Ten years later I seem fine; I run, walk, do pretty much everything I usually do. I know there is an increased risk of a stroke with this but I try to stay healthy and eat right. Salad and baby aspirin are now a part of my daily routine. Wonderful hub and one that is of particular interest to me.

    • Kristen Howe profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristen Howe 

      3 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks Glenn. It's been almost 1.5 years since she's been gone. In a month, it would've been her 72nd birthday. Yeah she did--one more year. Thx for your kind words.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 

      3 years ago from Long Island, NY

      It's good that you are taking care of yourself by eating healthy, especially since you have the history of the heart problem.

      I don't have heart disease, but I am getting older and concerned about maintaining my health and mental abilities. So I decided, a while back, to stay away from read meat and I look at labels. I never eat anything that has any amount of saturated fat listed on the label. That made a big difference on my last annual physical results, resulting in a lower cholesterol.

      Sorry to hear about the lose of you mom. At least she had some extra time due to taking the baby aspirin.

    • Kristen Howe profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristen Howe 

      3 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks so much Benkatachari for your kind words and comments.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      3 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very useful article about simple steps to be taken to prevent heart diseases. Your own experiences shared are great guidance for people with the symptoms. Wish you all my blessings.

    • Kristen Howe profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristen Howe 

      3 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks Rebecca. I will.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 

      3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Sounds like you are on the right track. Keep on taking care of yourself!

    • Kristen Howe profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristen Howe 

      3 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks Linda for commenting with your kind words. It's been 2.5 years since my surgery--three this fall. Good for you for stay healthy, too!

    • Kristen Howe profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristen Howe 

      3 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks Linda for stopping by and commenting with kind words. It's been 2.5 years since my heart surgery--three years, this fall. Good for you!

    • Kristen Howe profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristen Howe 

      3 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Linda, thanks for stopping by and kind words. It's been 2.5 years since I had my heart surgery--it'll be 3 this fall. I'm glad you love my tips, too.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      3 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Glad to hear you are doing well and your heart is healthy. Excellent tips! I exercise every day and eat healthy...the heart is vital for survival. Treat it right and it will do right by you! :)

    • Kristen Howe profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristen Howe 

      3 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks Poetryman. I agree with water. Thanks for liking my recommendations, too.

    • poetryman6969 profile image


      3 years ago

      Voted up. These recommendations work for me. All you add is water.

    • Kristen Howe profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristen Howe 

      3 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Rachel, you've very welcome. I hope the hole in your granddaughter's heart will grow smaller and doesn't need surgery, like I did, 3.5 years ago. I'm sorry to hear of your loss of your brother. My mother died from a heart attack a year ago from years of smoking, and a year of CHF in home health care.

    • Rachel L Alba profile image

      Rachel L Alba 

      3 years ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

      This is a subject of interest to me. There is heart disease in my family. My brother died of a massive heart attack a year and a half ago, only 3 years older then me. He and I both have leaky heart valves. My youngest granddaughter who is 7 was born with a hole in heart which is being watched monthly. So far, it's not causing any problems. Thank you for bring awareness of this problem to your readers.

    • Kristen Howe profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristen Howe 

      4 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      God Bless your granddaughter Mary. My hole was about 42 inches. I agree with eating healthy foods and exercises is the way to go. Thanks for the visit.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      4 years ago from New York

      My granddaughter was born with a hole in her heart and a clogged valve. She had open heart surgery when she was three days old. She's two now and beautiful! (Yes, I wrote a hub about it.)

      I'm glad they found and corrected yours, and very glad you're now doing well. We never really know what's going on inside so eating healthy and exercising is our best bet for being healthy.

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • Kristen Howe profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristen Howe 

      4 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks so much Sharp Points for stopping by and commenting.

    • Sharp Points profile image

      Sharp Points 

      4 years ago from Big Bear Lake, California

      Great read, very informative useful information! Good work!

    • Lynne-Modranski profile image

      Lynne Modranski 

      4 years ago from Ohio

      I have one of those holes! Fortunately, mine's never gotten bigger so they just left it there, although it did contribute to a TIA I had in 2007. I've been told to avoid the green stuff (especially raw spinach, my favorite) because the greener it is the more it thickens the blood (I've never researched that thought - that's just what I've been told). Thanks for sharing your story and your health tips!

    • Kristen Howe profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristen Howe 

      4 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Cucumber salad is healthy. Thanks so much Peach.

    • peachpurple profile image


      4 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      how could i forgot about cucumber for salad? great tips for eating healthy

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Thank you for sharing your story and your advice on the importance of heart health! Great post, looking forward to more!


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