Follow these steps to keep your ticker ticking.
Load Up on Magnesium
Nearly half of Americans don't get their daily requirement of magnesium (about 265 milligrams for women). Yet one study found that, combined with lifestyle changes, a diet high in magnesium--which helps relax blood vessels--may lower blood pressure by five points in individuals with mild hypertension. Two good sources of the mineral: cooked spinach and pumpkin seeds.
Watch Out for Migraines
A study of 27,800 women found that migraines accompanied by visual disturbances (like blind spots or flashes of light) was the number two risk factor for heart disease--second only to high blood pressure. This type of migraine may be a sign of impaired vascular function that could predispose sufferers to blood clots. If you experience these headaches, have your doctor monitor you for other heart disease red flags. And focus on lowering your overall risk by quitting smoking and exercising regularly.
Eat More Healthy Fats
I've been a vocal cheerleader of the Mediterranean diet for years, and a 2013 study in The New England Journal of Medicine is proof that it can have a significant impact on your heart health. The diet, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids from sources like olive oil and nuts, was shown to reduce the risk of heart problems (like heart attack or stroke) by 30 percent. The combination of nutrients from the diet's legumes, fruits, veggies, fish, and olive oil may help improve lipid levels and insulin sensitivity.
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