What Can You Do to Prevent Heart Disease?
Taking care of your heart is a great step towards the best possible aging journey. By making the following healthy nutrition, exercise and lifestyle choices, people of all ages can reduce their risk for heart disease.
- Follow a heart-healthy diet – Saturated fats contribute to high levels of cholesterol. Diets higher in added sugars and salt can increase the chances of heart problems and swelling in the legs and feet. Replace these food items with whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
- Limit your alcohol consumption – Alcohol can raise your blood pressure, increasing your risk of heart-related problems.
- Manage your weight – Even a few extra pounds increases your risk for heart disease as well as cholesterol levels. Some ways you can maintain a healthy weight include limiting portion size and being physically active.
- Adopt an active lifestyle – Start by doing activities you enjoy such as brisk walking or gardening. For adults, the Surgeon General recommends 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week. Talk with your doctor about other forms of activity that would be best for you. Regular exercise decreases your cholesterol, blood sugar levels and helps manage your weight.
- Avoid smoking – If you smoke, quit. Smoking adds to the damage to artery walls. Quitting —even in later life —can lower your risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer over time.
- Know your numbers – Adults should have their cholesterol tested at least once every four to six years. A total cholesterol level of less than 200 mg/dL is considered healthy. If your cholesterol reads more, you may want to talk to your doctor about how you can decrease your risk for disease.
- Take charge of your medical conditions – Manage your diabetes or other health-related issues by monitoring your blood sugar levels carefully, and talk with your primary care physician about treatment options. Take your medicines as directed, follow all instructions and always ask questions if you don’t understand something.
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