Ever wondered about the state of your heart health? You’re not alone. While living a healthy lifestyle and undergoing regular checkups are important, they may not provide a comprehensive assessment of our heart function.

For many, the uncertainty surrounding heart health can lead to anxiety.

However, a recent study sought to address this issue by introducing a simple and cost-effective method known as the stair test, aiming to evaluate heart function without the need for expensive testing.

What Is a Stair Test?

Healthy heart

The stair test was created by a group of researchers in Spain to assess heart health. The belief is the amount of time it takes to climb four sets of stairs might be able to tell you whether you should seek further testing on your heart.

The researchers conducted a study on 165 participants and concluded that those who were able to climb four sets of stairs in under 1-minute showed good indications of heart health.

Those who took longer than 1.5 minutes were encouraged to reach out for further evaluation. Although this research has not been reviewed or published, it’s creating conversations.

There is a need for simple yet effective testing we can do to determine health risks [1].

Healthy Habits for Heart Health

No one is arguing that heart health isn’t important.

Considered one of the most essential organs in the human body, keeping a healthy heart means long, happy life.

But how can we make sure to keep our hearts strong and functioning at optimal capacity? Below are some key factors to consider.

Heart Healthy Diet

Diet plays a large role in heart health. With the rise in processed foods, Americans are at an increased risk of developing health conditions.

Diet-related conditions, including hypertension and high cholesterol, can impact the function of our hearts. To counteract this risk, it’s encouraged to emphasize a heart-healthy diet plan.

A heart-healthy diet can be like traditional guidelines recommended for any healthy diet.

This includes a reduction in processed foods and an emphasis on whole-food items. By reducing processed food, you are reducing salt intake.

This can help to reduce incidences of developing hypertension. You will also reduce saturated fat intake, which can cause elevated cholesterol levels.

High cholesterol is linked to an increased incidence of coronary artery disease development. 

There are a few diet patterns that research has determined to help target heart health. These include the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet.

DASH Diet – The DASH diet, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, has been around since 1997. This diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It emphasizes low-fat dairy products and lean meats such as poultry and fish. The DASH diet limits foods high in saturated fats and sodium to help manage or prevent hypertension [2]. 

Mediterranean Diet – The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional eating habits of those in that region. This diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. Olive oil is the main source of fat. 

The Mediterranean diet is recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA). It is typically low in animal products. Fish and poultry are usually the main protein sources over beef and other red meats [3].


For optimal heart health, a healthy diet and exercise routine are encouraged. The AHA recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week.

This can be broken down into 30 minutes each day of aerobic exercise that gets your heart rate up.

Aerobic exercises include walking, jogging, biking, swimming, dancing, and more.

Or you could do 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week or a mixture of both. It’s also encouraged to get in at least 2 days a week of moderate to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity [4].

A sedentary lifestyle is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Even if you are new to an activity, incorporating a few minutes of movement each day can make a difference.

If you aren’t already, consider adding an activity to your routine that gets you up and moving. Your heart will thank you.

Heart Disease Risk Factors

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the main risk factors for heart disease and stroke are the following:

  • Hypertension
  • High LDL cholesterol
  • Smoking or second-hand smoke exposure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Sedentary lifestyle 

All these factors can be prevented or managed to better decrease the risk of developing heart disease or stroke however, it takes awareness.

Many Americans don’t realize the impact some of these factors can have on their health longterm. In fact, 1 in 3 Americans will die of cardiovascular disease making it the leading cause of death in the United States [5].

Bottom Line

With Cardiovascular disease claiming so many lives in America yearly, it’s important to take our heart health seriously.

Researchers are looking to find inexpensive and easy ways for Americans to assess their heart health for early signs of cardiovascular disease.

But it’s important to not wait for a test to come out. Instead, be proactive about your heart health. Taking control of your diet and lifestyle can help to decrease your risk of developing heart disease.

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