Based on the results of your test, your health care provider will discuss with you whether you have a heart condition that needs treatment, whether you're at risk of developing heart disease and steps you can take to keep your heart healthy.
Regardless of the results of your test, it's a good idea to make lifestyle changes to help protect your heart. These include:
- Exercise regularly. Exercise helps you reach and maintain a healthy weight and control diabetes, elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure — all risk factors for heart disease. With your doctor's OK, aim for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity most days of the week. If necessary, break your activity into several 10-minute sessions a day.
- Eat healthy foods. A heart-healthy diet based on fruits, vegetables and whole grains — and low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium — can help you control your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Stop smoking. Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease, especially atherosclerosis. If you smoke, quitting is the best way to reduce your risk of heart disease and its complications.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight can contribute to high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels and type 2 diabetes. Losing weight, even a small amount, lessens these risks.
- Manage health conditions. If you have high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol or diabetes, take your medications as directed. Ask your doctor how often you need follow-up visits.
- Manage stress. Stress can cause your blood vessels to constrict, upping the odds of a heart attack. Ask your doctor about stress management programs in your area. Exercise can help reduce stress too.