Prevention and Risk Factors for Heart Disease

Proper heart health starts with you. Taking good care of your body, including eating right and exercising, is your first line of defense against heart disease.

Heart Disease Prevention

You can lower your risk for all cardiac and vascular diseases by following these guidelines:

  • Know your numbers: blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Keep them under control.

  • Manage your diet with healthy eating habits.

  • Maintain a healthy weight through meal planning and exercise.

  • Get moving with daily activity and exercise.

  • Don't smoke.

  • Talk with your physician about appropriate medication.

Heart Disease Risk Factors

You can learn a lot about your heart with a few simple numbers. When you know what numbers indicate a strong, healthy heart, you can take steps to reduce risk for heart disease and stroke. Here's a good guide from the American Heart Association:

Total Cholesterol   Less than 200 mg/dL
HDL ("Good") Cholesterol      Women: 50 mg/dL or higher                          
Men: 40 mg/dL or higher
LDL ("Bad") Cholesterol     Low risk for heart disease: Less than 160 mg/dL
Intermediate risk for heart disease: Less than 130 mg/dL
High risk for heart disease including those who have heart disease or diabetes: Less than 100 mg/dL
Very high risk for heart disease: Less than 70 mg/dL
Triglycerides   Less than 150 mg/dL
Blood Pressure   Less than 120/80 mmHg
Fasting Glucose         Less than 100 mg/dL
Body Mass Index (BMI)     Less than 25 kg/m
Waist Circumference      Women: 35 inches or less
Men: 40 inches or less
Exercise   Minimum of 30 minutes most days

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