Keep Your Heart Muscle Strong

  • Is Your Heart in Shape?
    You might not notice it as readily as flabby arms or legs, but you should keep your heart muscle in shape, too. Over time, coronary artery disease (CAD) can weaken the heart muscle and lead to heart failure or arrhythmias, which can be very serious conditions. They could even lead to death.

  • Are You Offbeat?
    Have you ever been in a stressful situation and felt your heart start to flutter or beat faster? Perhaps you've felt it before a test, job interview, or even a first date. A fluttering feeling in your chest could be the sign of an arrhythmia--a problem with the speed or rhythm or your heartbeat.

  • Some Change Is Normal
    It is normal for your heart rate to change during the course of a day. For instance, your heart beats slower when you sleep and faster when you exert yourself or are excited. Aside from these normal changes in heart rate, most people also experience an arrhythmia at some point in their lives. Many arrhythmias are harmless. But some can reduce your heart's ability to pump enough blood to the body or even lead to sudden cardiac arrest.

  • Talk with Your Doctor
    Some of the more serious signs and symptoms of arrhythmia include anxiety, sweating, dizziness, and chest pain. But keep in mind that many arrhythmias have no symptoms or occur infrequently, making them difficult to detect. So it's important to tell your doctor about any unusual symptoms, including fatigue, fainting, or trouble breathing.

  • Reduce Stress
    Find ways to deal with stress, which can trigger both arrhythmias and heart attacks. Try yoga, meditation, or simply talking with a friend.

  • Addiction Triggers
    Be aware that addictive substances, such as alcohol, cigarettes, and recreational drugs, can trigger arrhythmias.

  • Prevent Heart Failure
    With heart failure, your heart can't pump enough blood through your body. You might be tired and out of breath, and your legs and abdomen may swell. Heart failure can limit your daily activities and shorten your life. But you can take action now to prevent heart failure ...

  • Eat Heart-Healthy
    Eat a heart-healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

  • Curb Salts and Fats
    Low-fat dairy products and lean meats are good to eat, too. But cut down on salt, fat, saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol.

  • Stay Active
    Exercise regularly--for 30 minutes on most, if not all, days of the week.

  • Cut Back on Alcohol
    Limit your alcohol intake. The upper limit for men is two drinks a day. For women, it's one drink. But if you are at high risk of developing heart failure, then you should avoid alcohol completely.

  • Kick the Habit
    Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke. 

  • Follow the Doctor’s Orders
    See your doctor regularly. If you have a condition that causes heart failure, follow his or her instructions for treating it properly.

Keep Your Heart Muscle Strong
  1. “Acute Emotional Stress and Cardiac Arrhythmias.” R.C. Ziegelstein. Journal of the American Medical Association. Vol. 298, no. 3, pp. 324-9.
  2. “Heart Failure.” J.M. Torpy. Journal of the American Medical Association. Vol. 297, no. 22, pp. 2548.
  3. “Am I at Risk of Developing Arrhythmias?” American Heart Association. (
  4. "Causes of Heart Failure." American Heart Association. (
  5. “Arrhythmia: What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Arrhythmias?” National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health. (
  6. “Arrhythmia: What Is an Arrhythmia?” National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health. (
  7. "Coronary Artery Disease: What Is Coronary Artery Disease?" National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health. (
  8. “Heart Failure: How Can Heart Failure Be Prevented?” National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health. (
Was this helpful?
Last Review Date: 2019 Jun 7
Explore Heart Health
  • Angina is pain or pressure in your chest caused by lack of oxygen to your heart. This may be caused by a narrowed or blocked coronary artery, which reduces the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart. You may get angina with physical exertion, though it often subsides after a few minutes of rest. As the artery narrows, the pain will occur with less and less exertion. Get more angina facts here.
    May 26, 2020
  • All forms of angina are due to underlying coronary artery disease. Learn about the triggers for each type and whether they put you at immediate risk of having a heart attack.
    May 26, 2020
  • Doctors use different types of cardiac stress test procedures to determine a patient's heart health and diagnose heart conditions.
    April 17, 2020
  • Learn how doctors interpret cardiac (heart) stress test results from different types of cardiac stress tests, including chemical and exercise stress tests.
    April 17, 2020
Recommended Reading
Next Up
Answers to Your Health Questions
Trending Videos