10 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

Woman exercising to reduce risk of heart disease.Do you know that heart disease and heart attacks are preventable? Heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women, doesn’t have to be a death sentence.

The key to preventing heart disease and heart attack, according to Daniel Edmundowicz, MD, UPMC Cardiovascular Institute, is lifestyle changes that bring good heart health. “Individuals can take control of the risk factors that lead to coronary artery disease,” he says.

Heart specialists have identified essential ways to reduce the risk of heart disease. These involve reducing the factors that lead to clogged arteries. Blood vessels need to be free of fatty deposits that can restrict or cut off blood flow to the heart. So take heart, here’s how:

  1. If you smoke, stop: Smoking causes buildup of fatty substances in the arteries.
  2. Lower your blood pressure: High blood pressure makes the heart pump harder and can cause artery walls to bulge or burst.
  3. Lower your cholesterol: High cholesterol results in accumulation of plaque in the arteries.
  4. Get treatment for diabetes: Diabetes causes inflammation of blood vessels and results in more plaque-forming cholesterol.
  5. Reduce your waistline: Abdominal obesity increases cholesterol levels, plaque, and inflammation of arteries.
  6. Reduce stress: Stress can increase cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
  7. Eat healthy: High-fat diets increase cholesterol. Eat foods low in fat, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
  8. Exercise: Thirty minutes of moderate exercise five days a week burns fat and lowers cholesterol.
  9. Drink alcohol in moderation: Individuals whose lifestyles include one 12-ounce beer, one four-ounce glass of wine, or one ounce of liquor up to three times a week have been shown to have a reduced risk of heart disease.
  10. Eat less: Reducing total calorie intake reduces fat that raises cholesterol.


If you are at risk or think you may be at risk from any of these factors, see your doctor and find out more about how to reduce your risk for coronary heart disease. Learn more from your health care professional about lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, smoking cessation, low-fat diets, diabetes treatment, and reducing stress.


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