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Mayo Clinic Healthy Heart for Life!

Quick Overview

In The Mayo Clinic Healthy Heart for Life!, Mayo Clinic provides up-to-date, clinically proven information that addresses the key causes of heart disease and provides clear, actionable advice in an easy-to follow format, including:

  • The three key actions you can taken in a quick-start plan to help you jump-start your way to heart health
  • A heart-health assessment to help you create your own customized plan
  • An easy-to-follow program designed for life-long heart health
  • Tools to help you determine your risk for heart disease
  • Information on how to recognize symptoms of heart disease-and what to do about them
  • Background on cholesterol's role and info on how you can minimize the effects of bad cholesterol and enhance your levels of good cholesterol
  • How to talk to your doctor about heart concerns and what to expect during a medical evaluation
  • How heart disease symptoms can be different in women, and other special concerns for women
  • How to raise heart-healthy children
  • …and more

Health Professional Review

Health Professional Reviewer: Dr Rachael McLean, Dr Rachael McLean BA, MBChB, MPH, PhD, FNZCPHM. Public Health Physician, Senior Lecturer Public Health & Nutrition, Departments of Preventive & Social Medicine/ Human Nutrition, University of Otago. Reviewed 4 December 2015.

Book Title: Mayo Clinic Healthy Heart for Life!

Date published: 2012

Suitable for: This book is suitable for an educated person who is interested in making lifestyle changes to improve heart health.  It is also suitable for people who are interested in gaining a better understanding of how the heart works, and what can go wrong.  Intermediate reading level.

Problems addressed: Aims to help people to improve their lifestyle so that it is consistent with best Cardiovascular health (particularly heart health).

Book Summary: 

This comprehensive book is written and compiled by clinicians and researchers from the Mayo Clinic, a large non-profit  medical practice and research group based in Minnesota.  It is written for people (particularly patients) who are interested in gaining a better understanding of heart health, improving lifestyles and reducing cardiovascular risk. The book contains chapters on healthy eating, physical activity, sleep, mental health, weight control and smoking cessation.  It also has chapters on management of heart disease, and an overview of how the heart works, and what can go wrong.  There is also a short section on medical management of cardiovascular risk, including a chapter on complementary and alternative medicine.  A particular strength of the book is that it discusses how people can make lifestyle change: outlining a two week quick start program with relatively small achievable goals, moving onto a 10 week programme which aims to establish lifelong healthy lifestyle patterns.  It outlines practical steps to overcome obstacles to change, including healthy recipes.


The book is attractively presented with plenty of illustrations, and useful diagrams.  It is very readable with language appropriate for educated lay people.  The text is well spaced and interspersed with text boxes containing personal stories and anecdotes. A particular strength of the book is that it focuses not only on what to do , but also on how to make positive changes, including useful suggestions about how to overcome common obstacles.  It is a comprehensive overview, and readers can dip into chapters they feel are relevant to them.


The main weakness of the book is that it is written primarily for a US audience, and some parts are inconsistent with current New Zealand practice and recommendations.  US guidelines for cardiovascular risk screening and assessment are slightly different to those in use in New Zealand (chapter 9), and some blood test results have different units, and may have different cut off values to those New Zealand patients will be familiar with.  The nutrition recommendations include a healthy plate, and Healthy Weight Pyramid, which differ from the NZ Heart Foundation pictorial of a healthy diet.  The nutrition recommendations are practical and consistent with those in use in NZ, with the exception of advice to limit dietary cholesterol (for example in egg yolks) which is not in the NZ dietary guidelines, and is no longer in the US 2015 draft dietary guidelines.


  • Chapters 2-6 outline what changes are recommended, and these are well supported by Chapters 22-24 on overcoming obstacles and practical strategies.
  • Chapter 13 contains a well-illustrated overview of how the heart works, and is followed by good explanations of various disease processes including coronary artery disease (chapter 15).


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