Preventing Cardiovascular Diseases

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Primary risk factors for chronic disease

At the top of the CDC's list of primary risk factors for all chronic diseases are: smoking, poor nutrition, and sedentary lifestyle.

Living a healthier lifestyle can help to prevent heart disease. This includes the following:

  • Eliminating all tobacco products

  • Sticking to a heart-healthy diet

  • Following an appropriate exercise program

  • Managing your weight

  • Eliminate as much stress as possible

Eliminate all tobacco products

All tobacco products are included as risk factors for chronic illness, not just cigarettes. And, although there may be medical uses from derivatives of some social drugs, such as alcohol, there is no therapeutic use for nicotine. As soon as you stop smoking, your body begins to heal itself from the devastating effects of tobacco.

Adhere to a heart-healthy diet

One aspect of managing your heart attack risk factors includes eating a heart-healthy diet, including appropriate levels of the following:

  • Calories

  • Cholesterol

  • Fat

  • Fiber

  • Sodium

To try to eliminate any confusion, the federal government has established a food plate and food labeling laws. The food plate can help you eat a variety of foods while encouraging the right amount of calories and fat.

To find more information about the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 and to determine the appropriate dietary recommendations for your age, sex, and physical activity level, visit the Online Resources page for the links to the and 2010 Dietary Guidelines sites. Please note that the My Plate plan is designed for people over the age of 2 who do not have chronic health conditions.

Maintaining a heart-healthy, balanced diet will help to:

  • Manage stroke and heart attack risk factors

  • Prevent or manage other chronic diseases

  • Help lose weight and boost energy

  • Promote overall good health

Follow an appropriate exercise program

One vital step toward reducing your chances of having a heart attack is making the time to exercise. Today, with our fast-paced society, people must schedule time to exercise. Choose an activity that you enjoy doing, then talk with your health care provider about an exercise plan that meets your individual capabilities and needs.

An exercise program will help in the management of almost all stroke and heart attack risk factors. Try to include moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity for at least 40 minutes each day for at least 3 to 4 days per week, above usual activity, at work or home. Regular physical activity will help to promote health, psychological well-being, and a healthy body weight.

Always consult your health care provider regarding your healthy diet and exercise requirements.


Manage your weight

If you are overweight or obese, your health care provider will work with you to lose weight and lower your body mass index (BMI) to a normal or near-normal level. Making diet changes and increasing physical activity can help.


Eliminate as much stress as possible

Learn stress management techniques to help you deal with stress in your home and work life.