Lifestyle and home remediesBy Mayo Clinic staff
You can take steps to prevent acute coronary syndrome or improve your symptoms.
- Don't smoke. If you smoke, stop to improve your heart's health. Talk to your doctor if you're having trouble with quitting. It's also important to stay away from secondhand smoke.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet. Too much saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet can narrow arteries to your heart. Follow the advice of your doctor and dietitian on eating a heart-healthy diet that includes plenty of whole grains, lean meat, low-fat dairy, and fruits and vegetables. Also, limit saturated and trans fats, as well as the salt in your diet.
- Be active. Physical activity and regular exercise helps reduce your risk of acute coronary syndrome by helping you to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, and control diabetes, elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure. Exercise doesn't have to be vigorous. For example, walking 30 minutes a day five days a week can improve your health. The 30 minutes can even be broken down into three 10-minute periods of activity. Physical activity doesn't necessarily mean working out on a treadmill or in a gym. Activities such as gardening, dancing and household chores can all help reduce your risk of heart disease. Slow down or rest if activity triggers chest pain, and let your doctor know if this is new pain.
- Check your cholesterol. Have your blood cholesterol levels checked regularly, through a blood test at your doctor's office. If your cholesterol levels are undesirably high, your doctor can prescribe changes to your diet and medications to help lower the numbers and protect your cardiovascular health. It's recommended that overall cholesterol levels be below 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), and that high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or "good") cholesterol levels be above 40 mg/dL for men and above 50 mg/dL for women. Recommended low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad") cholesterol levels depend on your heart disease risk. For those with a low risk of heart disease, LDL cholesterol should be below 130 mg/dL. In people with a moderate risk of heart disease, a level of less than 100 mg/dL is recommended. For those with a high risk of heart disease, including people who've already had a heart attack, it's recommended that LDL levels be below 70 mg/dL.
- Control your blood pressure. Have your blood pressure checked at least every two years. Your doctor may recommend more frequent checks if you have high blood pressure or a history of heart disease. Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80 millimeters of mercury.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight strains your heart and can contribute to high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. Losing weight can lower your risk of acute coronary syndrome.
- Manage stress. To reduce your risk of a heart attack, reduce stress in your day-to-day activities. Rethink workaholic habits and find healthy ways to minimize or deal with stressful events in your life. Emotional stress can increase inflammation in your heart and make plaque rupture more likely.
- Drink alcohol in moderation. Drinking more than one to two alcoholic drinks a day raises blood pressure, so cut back on your drinking if necessary. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger. One drink is equivalent to 12 ounces (360 milliliters, or mL) of beer, 4 ounces (120 mL) of wine or 1.5 ounces (45 mL) of an 80-proof liquor.
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