Alternative medicine (2)
- Herbal supplements may not mix with heart medicines
- Chelation therapy for heart disease
- Chagas disease
- Flu shots: Especially important if you have heart disease
- Myocardial ischemia
Lifestyle and home remedies (7)
- Heart-healthy diet: 8 steps to prevent heart disease
- Menus for heart-healthy eating: Cut the fat and salt
- Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health
- see all in Lifestyle and home remedies
- Red wine and resveratrol: Good for your heart?
- Mediterranean diet: A heart-healthy eating plan
- Couponing and other frugal food shopping tips
- see all in Prevention
Risk factors (6)
- Metabolic syndrome
- Heart disease in women: Understand symptoms and risk factors
- see all in Risk factors
Tests and diagnosis (5)
- Blood tests for heart disease
- C-reactive protein test
- Cardiac catheterization
- see all in Tests and diagnosis
Treatments and drugs (5)
- Daily aspirin therapy: Understand the benefits and risks
- Angina treatment: Stents, drugs, lifestyle changes — What's best?
- see all in Treatments and drugs
5 medication-free strategies to help prevent heart disease
You can prevent heart disease by following a heart-healthy lifestyle. Here are five strategies to help you protect your heart.By Mayo Clinic staff
Heart disease may be a leading cause of death, but that doesn't mean you have to accept it as your fate. Although you lack the power to change some risk factors — such as family history, sex or age — there are some key heart disease prevention steps you can take.
You can avoid heart problems in the future by adopting a healthy lifestyle today. Here are five heart disease prevention tips to get you started.
1. Don't smoke or use tobacco
Smoking or using tobacco is one of the most significant risk factors for developing heart disease. Chemicals in tobacco can damage your heart and blood vessels, leading to narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis). Atherosclerosis can ultimately lead to a heart attack. When it comes to heart disease prevention, no amount of smoking is safe. Smokeless tobacco and low-tar and low-nicotine cigarettes also are risky, as is exposure to secondhand smoke.
In addition, the nicotine in cigarette smoke makes your heart work harder by narrowing your blood vessels and increasing your heart rate and blood pressure. Carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke replaces some of the oxygen in your blood. This increases your blood pressure by forcing your heart to work harder to supply enough oxygen. Even so-called "social smoking" — smoking only while at a bar or restaurant with friends — is dangerous and increases the risk of heart disease.
Women who smoke and take birth control pills are at greater risk of having a heart attack or stroke than are those who don't do either. This risk increases with age, especially in women older than 35.
The good news, though, is that when you quit smoking, your risk of heart disease drops dramatically within just one year. And no matter how long or how much you smoked, you'll start reaping rewards as soon as you quit.
2. Exercise for 30 minutes on most days of the week
Getting some regular, daily exercise can reduce your risk of fatal heart disease. And when you combine physical activity with other lifestyle measures, such as maintaining a healthy weight, the payoff is even greater.
Physical activity helps you control your weight and can reduce your chances of developing other conditions that may put a strain on your heart, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. It also reduces stress, which may be a factor in heart disease.
Try getting at least 30 to 60 minutes of moderately intense physical activity most days of the week. However, even shorter amounts of exercise offer heart benefits, so if you can't meet those guidelines, don't give up. You can even break up your workout time into 10-minute sessions.
And remember that activities such as gardening, housekeeping, taking the stairs and walking the dog all count toward your total. You don't have to exercise strenuously to achieve benefits, but you can see bigger benefits by increasing the intensity, duration and frequency of your workouts.Next page
(1 of 2)
- Understand your risk of heart attack. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/UnderstandYourRiskofHeartAttack/Understand-Your-Risk-of-Heart-Attack_UCM_002040_Article.jsp. Accessed Oct. 18, 2010.
- Jefferis BJ, et al. Secondhand smoke (SHS) is associated with circulating markers of inflammation and endothelial function in adult men and women. Atherosclerosis. 2010;208:550.
- Erhardt L. Cigarette smoking: An undertreated risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Atherosclerosis. 2009;205:23.
- Kodama S, et al. Cardiorespiratory fitness as a quantitative predictor of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular events in healthy men and women. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2009;301:2024.
- Your guide to lowering blood pressure with DASH. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/hbp/dash/new_dash.pdf. Accessed Oct. 18, 2010.
- Effects of omega-3 fatty acids on cardiovascular disease. Rockville, Md.: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. http://www.ahrq.gov/downloads/pub/evidence/pdf/o3cardio/o3cardio.pdf. Accessed Oct. 18, 2010.
- Alcohol, wine and cardiovascular disease. American Heart Association. http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4422. Accessed Oct. 18, 2010.
- Owen CG, et al. Is body mass index before middle age related to coronary heart disease risk in later life? Evidence from observational studies. International Journal of Obesity. 2009;33:866.
- Benderly M, et al. Relation of body mass index to mortality among men with coronary heart disease. American Journal of Cardiology. 2010;106:207.
- U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for high blood pressure: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force reaffirmation recommendation statement. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2007;147:783.
- Screening for lipid disorders in adults: Recommendation statement. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/uspstf08/lipid/lipidrs.htm. Accessed Oct. 18, 2010.
- Kahn R, et al. Age at initiation and frequency of screening to detect type 2 diabetes: A cost-effectiveness analysis. The Lancet. 2010;375:1365.