Keep Your Heart Muscle Strong

  • portrait of smiling senior African American man wearing hat
    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.
  • stressed businessman sitting on hotel bed
    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.
  • Portrait of smiling man in yoga class
    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.
  • Doctor examining female Senior patient
    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.
  • man and woman meditation together outside
    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.
  • cigarette-stubs-in-ashtray
    Addiction Triggers
    Be aware that addictive substances, such as alcohol, cigarettes, and recreational drugs, can trigger arrhythmias.
  • Man with chest pain
    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 ...
  • fruits-and-vegetables
    Eat Heart-Healthy
    Eat a heart-healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Meat and Cheese
    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.
  • Mature couple exercising
    Stay Active
    Exercise regularly--for 30 minutes on most, if not all, days of the week.
  • two pints of beer in pub
    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.
  • cigarette-smoking-closeup
    Kick the Habit
    Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke. 
  • Doctor explaining to patient
    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

About The Author

  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. (
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Last Review Date: 2021 Jun 19
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.