Protect Your Heart: Seven Steps to Help Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. It is important to understand the risks and find out how you can protect yourself.
Some risk factors for heart disease, such as age, family history and ethnicity, can't be changed. But many of the risk factors are related to lifestyle choices. Making the right choices is your best defense against heart disease.
What can you do to protect yourself?
- Don't smoke or use other tobacco products.
- Choose a nutritious diet. Eat vegetables, fruits, whole-grain and high-fiber foods, fish, lean protein, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products. And limit alcohol.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity places you at risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes — the very factors that heighten your risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Exercise at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week.
- Manage related health problems. Take steps to reduce high blood cholesterol, lower high blood pressure and control diabetes.
- Manage your stress. High stress levels can be hard on your heart and can put you at risk for high blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease.
- Get regular health screenings. Blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes screenings are especially important.
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Sources: American Heart Association; Mayo Clinic