10 Ways to Reduce Your Heart Attack Risk
This year, 1.2 million Americans are expected to have a heart attack. Of those, about 452,000 will die, making coronary heart disease the nation's single leading cause of death, according to the American Heart Association.
Heart disease can affect anyone, but certain factors put you at greater risk. Men, anyone with family history of heart disease, and adults older than 65 are more likely to suffer a heart attack.
You can't change those risk factors, but luckily, there are other steps you can take to reduce the likelihood you will have a heart attack. Here are 10 ways to prevent heart attacks, according to the American Heart Association:
1. Don't smoke.
If you're already a smoker, quit. It's tough, but it's even tougher to recover from a heart attack. And if people in your household smoke, encourage them to quit, too.
2. Lower your cholesterol.
Arteries clogged with fat are a recipe for a heart attack. A healthy diet and regular exercise are a great way to begin reducing your cholesterol. If that's not enough, you may need to talk to your doctor about taking prescription medications, such as statins.
3. Reduce high blood pressure.
It's the single largest risk factor for stroke. Watch your salt intake, and exercise on a daily basis. Your doctor may also prescribe medications that flush out excess water and sodium, consequently reducing blood pressure.
4. Get moving.
Exercising for 30 to 60 minutes at least four days a week can help lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and keep your weight at a healthy level. Going for a brisk walk is all it takes to start exercising.
5. Maintain a healthy weight.
This will differ for everyone. However, eating right and being active will help you find your healthy weight. One indictor of appropriate weight is your Body Mass Index (BMI); check yours online.
6. Manage diabetes.
If you have diabetes, you are two to four times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease because diabetes raises LDL (the bad) cholesterol. Exercising and making healthy food choices will help you manage diabetes AND lower your LDL cholesterol levels.
7. Reduce stress.
Research has shown a direct correlation between heart disease and stress. In addition, stress often leads people to smoke or overeat.
8. Limit alcohol.
Drinking excessively can raise blood pressure and cause heart failure or strokes. However, research has shown that moderate alcohol intakeone drink a day for women or two drinks for men a daycan lower your risk for heart disease.
9. Use medication.
If you doctor has prescribed cholesterol- or blood pressure-lowering medications, take them as directed. In addition, your doctor may suggest that you take a daily aspirin to reduce your heart attack risk.
10. Read, read, read.
The best way to prevent a heart attack is to read and learn about how to protect yourself and your loved ones.
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