U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Heart Health: Conversation starters

Heart Health: Conversation starters

It can be hard to talk to a family member or friend about making healthy lifestye 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 types of death in the United States than all types of cancer combined.”

Say how to prevent heart disease.

Make it clear that taking these steps can improve heart health:

  • Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke.
  • Control your cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • If you choose to drink alcohol, limit your drinking to no more than 1 drink a day for women and no more than 2 drinks a day for men.
  • Eat healthy. Get plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products. Limit saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium (salt).
  • Get active. Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week.
  • Stay at a healthy weight. If you are overweight or obese, losing just 10 pounds can lower your risk of heart disease.

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. What can I do to help you?”

Try suggesting these ideas:

  • Go shopping together for heart-healthy foods. Then cook and enjoy a healthy meal.
  • Get active together. A good way to start is to meet every day for a fast walk.
  • If your loved one smokes, encourage him to get free help quitting by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).