Harvard Heart Letter

Nine tips for a healthier 2009

If you are in the habit of making resolutions for the new year, or you just want to investigate new strategies to protect your heart and make sure it gets the best care possible, here are nine possibilities. Some are old, some are new, each will help your heart beat true.

1. Learn CPR. When a person's heart suddenly stops beating, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is all that stands between him or her and the great beyond. The new hands-only technique is simple and effective. Although cardiac arrests sometimes come out of the blue, they're more common in people with heart disease. Ask your family members and friends to take a CPR class with you. You can find one in your area by calling the American Heart Association (toll-free) at 877-242-4277. You can also buy a kit from the association and learn CPR at home.

2. Know your numbers. Make sure you know your cholesterol profile, blood pressure, and blood sugar, and track them through the year. Ask your doctor if you should have your C-reactive protein (CRP) checked, especially if your cholesterol is in the normal range. Estimate your heart attack risk. You can use a comprehensive tool, such as Your Disease Risk, or the simpler Framingham Risk Score or Reynolds score. You can find all of these tools at health.harvard.edu/138.

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