How can I reduce my risk of heart attack or stroke?

You can cut your risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke during the next 20 years by more than 60 percent if you adopt some heart-smart habits:

  • Don't smoke—and don't hang around people who do.
  • Be physically active. Walk 10,000 steps a day!
  • Keep blood pressure at 115/76.
  • Watch your cholesterol. Keep your triglycerides at 100 or less; high-density lipoprotein (HDL) at 60 or above, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) under 100 and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (an inflammation marker) at 1 or less.
  • Keep blood glucose level around 85 in the morning before breakfast.
  • Floss regularly and see a dentist every 6 months.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and a body mass index of 18.5 to 24.9.
  • Avoid the five food felons: trans fats, saturated fats, added sugars, syrups and all grain that isn't 100 percent whole grain. Don't eat foods that on their nutritional labels list these in the first five ingredients (excluding parentheticals).
  • If you're a guy 35 years or older, or a woman 40 years or older, talk with your doc about taking two baby aspirins every day (drink warm water before and after).
  • Have a buddy to talk or walk with daily.
  • Do an activity you really love.

Although middle-aged children of parents with heart disease are at higher risk of cardio problems, an unhealthy familial lifestyle is riskier than genetics, so put aside your fears and put on your sneakers and put down that doughnut and pick up an apple.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.