Health Library

Categories > Heart Health > Heart disease: Prevention

Take control!

Heart disease and stroke kill almost a million Americans each year. Unless you take steps to control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, you may be at risk for these diseases. Get on the road to better health today with these seven simple steps:

    1) Take a walk. Exercise helps control your blood pressure and improves your cholesterol. Choose activities you enjoy and strive for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week to fight disease.

    2) Manage your weight. Reducing your weight by just 10 pounds may help lower your blood pressure and reduce bad cholesterol. Since dropping pounds may be easier if you have a team of people interested in your well-being, ask your healthcare provider to refer you to experts, groups or classes that can help. Try weighing yourself daily—a new study suggests you’ll be more successful at controlling your weight that way.

    3) Toss the cigarettes. Smoking causes blood vessels to narrow and blood pressure to rise. It also makes it easier for cholesterol-rich plaque to stick to artery walls. A smoking cessation class can offer extra support.

    4) Eat well. Enjoy vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and legumes, along with moderate amounts of lean protein and healthy fats like those contained in salmon and olive oil. Avoid foods high in saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, sugar and trans fatty acids.

    5) Try soy. A recent study shows that two servings a day of uncooked soy protein—found in tofu, soy milk or soy powder—lowers cholesterol levels by as much as 9 percent.

    6) Limit your liquor. Women should consume no more than one drink a day and men no more than two drinks a day.

    7) Keep getting screened. Routinely checking your blood pressure and cholesterol levels helps keep you informed about your cardiovascular disease risks. If your blood pressure’s high, ask your doctor about buying a blood pressure monitor for home use. Find out what your total cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels should be and what you need to do to make improvements.

Unfortunately, just getting older increases your cardiovascular disease risks, so it’s important to work closely with your healthcare provider. He or she can help you fight disease and remain in good health.