Heart Health: Conversation starters

It can be hard to talk to a family member or friend about making healthy lifestyle changes. Use these tips to start a conversation about heart-healthy changes like quitting smoking or getting more physical activity. 

Begin by saying that you care.

You can say:

  • “I want you to live a long and healthy life.”
  • “I hope you’ll be around for a long time.”
  • “I want to help you make healthy changes so you can keep enjoying the things you love to do.”

Share the facts.

Let your loved one know how serious heart disease can be:

  • “Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.”
  • “Heart disease causes more deaths in the United States than all types of cancer combined.”

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 plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products. 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 – and you can get free help at 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 October 15, 2020

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.
Medical Officer/Program Director
Clinical Applications and Prevention Branch
Division of Cardiovascular Sciences
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

July 2019

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