Health Conditions

Heart Health: Conversation Starters

Two older men walk and talk together while one places his hand on the others back.

It can be hard to talk to a family member or friend about making heart-healthy changes, but it’s important. In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. 

The good news is there’s a lot people can do to lower their risk of heart disease. Use these tips to start a conversation about heart-healthy changes like quitting smoking or getting more physical activity. 

Start by saying that you care.

You can say:

  • “I want you to live a long and healthy life.”
  • “I want to help you make healthy changes so you can keep enjoying the things you love to do.”
  • “I want to help you get healthy because I care about you.”

Explain that it's possible to prevent heart disease.

Encourage your loved one to take steps that can improve heart health. For example, you can say:

  • "Eating healthy is important for heart health. You need a mix of healthy foods — like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins, fat-free or low-fat dairy, and vegetable oils. Why don't we go shopping and cook a healthy meal together?"
  • "Getting active is good for your heart. Let's go for a walk after dinner!"
  • "Quitting smoking can lower your risk of heart disease. You can get free help by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669)."

Offer to help.

Ask how you can help:

  • “What changes are the hardest for you to make? What can I do to support you?”
  • “How can we get healthy together?”
  • “You don't have to do this alone. How can I help?”

Content last updated May 22, 2023

Reviewer Information

This content on heart health was adapted from materials from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Diabetes Education Program.

Reviewed by:
Paula T. Einhorn, M.D., M.S.
Program Officer
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
National Institutes of Health

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