Heart disease and stroke are an epidemic in the U.S. Many don’t realize that they are at high risk for heart attack or stroke. The good news is that many of the major risk factors for these problems can be prevented or controlled. Getting your blood pressure and cholesterol checked are important first steps to reduce your risk.
Lifestyle choices can also help protect your health. These include eating healthy, exercising regularly and following your health care provider’s advice.
Try to fit in 2.5 hours of moderate exercise every week.
Remember your ABCS
ABCS stands for:
- Aspirin therapy may have a small benefit for some.
- Blood pressure control.
- Cholesterol management.
- Smoking cessation.
Keep the ABCS in mind every day. Bring it up when you talk with your health care provider.
Talk to your health care provider
When you talk with your health care provider, share your health history. Get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked. Follow your provider’s advice about medicines. Also ask if taking low-dose aspirin is right for you.
Control your blood pressure and cholesterol
High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of heart disease and stroke. One in three adults in the U.S. has high blood pressure. Half of these people don’t have their condition under control.
Tips for eating healthy
Similarly, high cholesterol affects 1 in 3 American adults. More than half of these people don’t have the condition under control. Half of adults with high cholesterol don’t get treatment.
If your blood pressure or cholesterol is high, take steps to lower it. This could include eating a healthier diet, getting more exercise and following your health care provider’s instructions about medicines you take.
Eat healthy for your heart
What you eat has a big impact on your heart health. When planning your meals and snacks, try to:
- Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Check food labels and select foods with less sodium. Too much salt can increase your blood pressure.
- Limit foods high in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol because they can make your cholesterol worse. You can find this information on the nutrition facts label.
- Cook at home more often. When possible, choose foods that are low in sodium or have no salt added. Limit sauces, mixes and instant products, including flavored rice and ready-made pasta.
Make physical activity part of your daily life
Those who experience obesity (body mass index – BMI) ≥30 or who are overweight (BMI 25-29.9) can increase the risk for heart disease and stroke. Know your BMI. To keep healthy, make physical activity part of your daily life. This will also help you fight high blood pressure and cholesterol. Try to fit in 2.5 hours of moderate exercise every week. For people who sit a lot, or who are sedentary, walking can be a good start.
Smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. If you’re a smoker, set a date to quit and ask your healthcare provider if you need help. Also avoid secondhand smoke and support smoke-free policies in your community.
Get more information
Use of Aspirin to Prevent Cardiovascular Disease | Cardiology | JAMA | JAMA Network
Prevent Stroke: What You Can Do | cdc.gov
May is National Stroke Awareness Month