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Categories > Heart Health > Heart disease: Prevention

Are you kind to your heart?
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If your heart could talk, would it sound more like Rodney Dangerfield (“I don’t get no respect!”)? Or like Sally Field (“You like me … you really like me!”)? Like most of us, you probably figure your ticker will go on pumping tomorrow just like it did today. But consider for a moment the admirable job it does. On an average day, the mighty muscle beats about 100,000 times and pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood. So what about it? Do you give your heart the care it deserves? Take this quiz to find out.

Circle the answer that best describes you.

  1. My idea of exercise is …
    1. playing basketball with my friends once month
    2. taking a 20-minute walk three times a week
    3. jogging, swimming or cycling nearly every day
  2. Your typical fast-food order is:
    1. a double cheeseburger with bacon, giant fries and a large cola
    2. a plain burger and small fries
    3. a garden salad with nonfat dressing
  3. At the mall, I usually …
    1. search for the parking spot closest to the main entrance
    2. purposely pick the farthest parking spot to sneak in a little exercise
    3. walk the whole perimeter of the mall twice before going into a store
  4. You’re stuck in a traffic jam. What’s your reaction?
    1. you’re fuming— you’ll be late for work, and your boss will never forgive you
    2. you consider it an inconvenience, but at least you’re sheltered and warm
    3. you calmly settle in and continue enjoying your favorite radio show
  5. Which would be more likely to appear on your dinner plate?
    1. meat loaf with gravy, mashed potatoes, a croissant and coleslaw
    2. a turkey burger, steamed broccoli, salad with fat-free dressing and a plain dinner roll
    3. salmon with black-bean salsa, grilled veggies drizzled with a tablespoon of olive oil and wild rice
  6. When it comes to your cholesterol levels, you …
    1. have no clue what they are
    2. are working with your doctor to achieve better levels
    3. know your total cholesterol, your HDL, LDL and triglyceride levels—and they’re all great
  7. You tend to snack on …
    1. ice cream, cheese and crackers
    2. baked chips and pretzels
    3. fruit, raw vegetables and small portions of nuts and seeds
  8. You:
    1. smoke
    2. used to smoke
    3. have never smoked
  9. When you want to relax, you …
    1. light a cigarette
    2. curl up on the couch with a good book and a pile of magazines
    3. practice yoga or meditate
  10. Chicken is on the menu tonight. What will it be?
    1. deep-fried legs and wings
    2. roasted chicken with the skin left on
    3. grilled, skinless chicken breast
  11. Your weight is …
    1. a problem—you are more than 20 pounds above your ideal weight
    2. under control—you are actively working on losing those last 20 pounds
    3. ideal—you have no trouble maintaining your optimal weight
  12. Since your doctor prescribed high blood pressure medication, you …
    1. never bothered to fill the prescription
    2. take it religiously
    3. take it religiously, exercise, eat right and watch your alcohol intake
  13. Your apartment is on the third floor, so you …
    1. always take the elevator
    2. climb the stairs occasionally and walk down the stairs most of the time
    3. always take the stairs up and down
  14. Your boss asks you to oversee an urgent project that must be completed in three hours. You …
    1. immediately panic, figuring you’ll never be able to make it
    2. tell yourself there’s no sense worrying, block out distractions and do your best
    3. gather the resources you need, divide the project into mini-tasks and delegate as many of them as possible
  15. You have a family history of heart disease …
    1. so you assume you’ll get it, too
    2. so you’ve begun making some healthy decisions, such as quitting smoking and losing weight
    3. but you’re determined to avoid it—you follow your doctor’s orders and don’t let little things stress you out

If you answered …

Mostly a’s. You may feel fine today, but down the road, your “heartless” decisions will take a toll. Luckily, you still have a chance to get back on a healthy track. Make an effort to eat right and become more active. If you’re still smoking, stop. And get regular checkups.

Mostly b’s. Now is the time to strengthen your commitment to healthy living. Boost your activity level, manage your stress levels and continue to work with your doctor to control cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

Mostly c’s. Congratulations. You give your heart the necessary care and respect. And you’ll have much to show for it: better health, more energy and a longer life. The key is to maintain your commitment and not let yourself get sidetracked by a rough patch—an illness, say, or a stressful event such as a job loss or divorce.