7 tips to reduce your risk for heart disease

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It’s the No. 1 killer of all Americans. Heart disease is one of our worst enemies. But it doesn’t have to be. Armed with the right tools, you can help prevent heart disease from playing a major role in your life.  

Heart disease is largely a preventable disease that is associated with many risk factors that are modifiable. The cardiologists at the Heart Disease Prevention Program can identify your risk factors and help you put the lifestyle changes in place that will keep your heart healthy. 

We Can Help You Stop the Development of Heart Disease
For a comprehensive evaluation of your risk factors and to develop a plan to decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke, schedule an appointment with the Heart Disease Prevention Program at 800.922.0000.

It’s called the "Simple Seven." By getting a handle on these seven controllable risk factors, you can greatly reduce the development of heart disease.

1. Eat a healthy diet. The Mediterranean Diet has proven to help in reducing heart disease. Eat high-fiber food with plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Consume fish twice a week and replace your trans fats with good unsaturated fats such as olive oil and walnuts.If you're struggling with meal ideas, try out one of these nine heart healthy recipes.

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2. Exercise regularly. Exercise for at least 30 minutes, five or more days a week. Strive to maintain more than 10,000 steps a day. Regular exercise will help you lower your blood pressure, decrease blood sugars, improve cholesterol and maintain a healthy weight.To help you get started, consider trying these 12 exercises you can do without going to the gym.

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3. Keep healthy cholesterol levels. Your risk for heart disease increases as your total cholesterol rises. Even more important than your total cholesterol are the different components of your total cholesterol – low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). LDL, also known as the bad cholesterol, parks itself in your arteries causing inflammation and blockages. HDL, or the commonly called good cholesterol, helps move the bad cholesterol to the liver where it can be cleaned out. A combination of medications, diet and exercise can help you maintain a healthy balance of cholesterol levels.

Adding colorful fruits, vegetables and healthy fats to your diet, and being active can help improve these levels. Learn more about how food choices can help lower your cholesterol.

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4. Control blood pressure. Most people don’t recognize symptoms of high blood pressure, which is a significant risk factor for stroke and heart attack. Therefore, routine screening is always recommended, even for healthy, young individuals with no symptoms. If you have high blood pressure, you should work closely with your doctor to keep it under control. Diet, exercise and weight management, along with medical treatment, all play a role in your blood pressure levels. Learn more about which blood pressure readings are considered high and if you have high blood pressure, what you can do to lower it.

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5. Do not smoke. Smoking doubles your risk for having a heart attack. The chemicals from smoking damage the lining of your arteries and cause them to narrow. These chemicals cause the blood to thicken, which increases the likelihood of forming clots inside the veins and arteries. Smoking also raises your heart rate and blood pressure, which puts additional stress on the heart. If you need help quitting, our Nicotine Dependence Clinic can help.

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6. Manage your diabetes. Controlling your diabetes will help delay the development of heart disease. However, the fact that you have diabetes increases your risk for heart disease and stroke substantially. This means you need to be extra vigilant about managing other risk factors such as diet, obesity, high blood pressure, physical inactivity and smoking.

Protect yourself

7. Maintain a healthy weight. Carrying excess weight strains your heart, raises your blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels and increases your risk for diabetes. Losing as little as 5 pounds can lower your blood pressure. If you've tried everything to control your weight but still feel stuck, check out our New Direction program. It's a safe, effective weight loss system run by doctors, physician assistants and registered dietitian nutritionists.

Make a change

Though they are called the "Simple Seven," most people would agree that these healthy behaviors probably aren't all that simple to implement. Our clinic is here to help give you the tools to make these healthy changes a part of your daily lifestyle.