TODAY   |  January 28, 2013

5 habits for a healthier heart

Heart disease survivor Star Jones and TODAY diet and nutrition editor Madelyn Fernstrom share their advice for on how to keep your ticker in tip-top shape, including exercising regularly and minimizing stress.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we're kicking off "today's" healthy heart week with five healthy habits. here with advice on how to keep that ticker humming is heart disease survivor, star jones and madelyn fernstrom, "today's" diet and nutrition editor. ladies, good to see you.

>> good morning.

>> we'll talk about pinky here in a second. why is this so important to you? it's national heart month. this is personal to you.

>> it is extremely personal. i'm not just a volunteer because i feel like getting out and talking about something. two years ago i had open heart surgery . i never knew i would become the face of heart disease . i always thought it was an old white guy disease because that's all i saw. when heart palpitations , fatigue, extreme fatigue, shortness of breath took over my life and it wasn't because of weight anymore, i wanted to find out what it was. i was sharing with madelyn, my doctor recognized those as heart disease .

>> i want to get into it with you, madelyn. diet.

>> diet plays a huge role. you know, i have to get control of my weight. she did. it's not just about eating sal salmon once a week, but doing things every day, cutting down on saturated fat, choosing wisely and losing weight with portion control . it doesn't happen automatically. you have to learn this.

>> you did something of a detox essentially. you got rid of some things from your life.

>> i had to. bread. i'm not a big dessert eater. i don't need to have heavy, heavy car bow hydrates. after 8:00 at night, i don't have car bow hibohydrates. that's something i continue to this day.

>> that works for star. she has her own personal insights going, here are the thi things i need to change to keep my diet healthy and to keep my weight off. for everyone it's different.

>> exercise routine, star, what did you start doing?

>> i was the laziest, most sed sedentry human being on the planet. i never ran for a ball, kicked a ball. now i work. i spin. i look crazy but i'm doing the challenge for this month, 30 minutes a day for the entire month of february. i have a whole routine that is already laid out for me. some exercises class, some simple walks. walking on the treadmill. i want people to realize that i can do it, you can do it, too.

>> we were talking about the main thing is to do it regularly, not a walk once a week but fitting some activity in every day, whether it's daily living, going up stairs, taking a class. and also as star did, know your activity temperment. some people like to be alone. some like to walk in groups.

>> what about stress management ? what's your advice there?

>> to change your response to the stress. you can't control a lot of the stress in your life and whether you have pinky or an animal that's really going to help you to reduce your stress -- these have real effects on lowering your blood pressure , preventing stress hormones from flooding your system. you might even keep a stress journal, join a group, do something that helps you to modify your response to stress.

>> pinky was recommended by your doctor?

>> absolutely. she was prescribed by my internist. it helps to reduce my blood pressure and minimizes the amount of prescriptions that i have to have. she's actually working right now.

>> and working well. she's beautiful. thank you so much for sharing your story. madelyn, thank you as well. sleep and smoking, a couple of others people should think about as well.