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10 Ways to Prevent Heart Disease

Reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease with these 10 easy-to-follow steps.

| September/October 2013

  • Regular consumption of soy products, including edamame, reduces heart-disease risk.
    Photo By Veer
  • Add more movement to your day. Take a walk at lunchtime or take frequent breaks that require you to get up and move around.
    Photo By iStock
  • Reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease with these 10 easy-to-follow steps.
    Illustration By Michelle Galins
  • A Mediterranean diet focused on fish, fresh vegetables, healthy fats and whole grains is very heart-healthy.
    Photo By StockFood
  • Increase the health of your heart with regular cardiovascular exercise.
    Photo By Veer
  • Studies show that fiber lowers LDL cholesterol while also helping us feel fuller longer, meaning we eat less and are less likely to put on excess weight, which increases heart disease risk.
    Photo By iStock

I know all about heart disease­—more than I’d like to know, in fact. My grandfather died of a heart attack when he was only 63. And my dad had a minor heart attack in his early 60s and has had chest pain land him in hospital emergency rooms more than a few times. I know I’m genetically at risk. It’s a big part of the reason I exercise almost every day and center my diet on fresh produce, whole grains and lean meats while avoiding (to my chagrin, I might add) ice cream and butter. 

Is it enough? Well, maybe. But I could be doing more, and so could you. Reducing our risk of cardiovascular disease doesn’t require taking statin drugs to lower cholesterol or popping aspirin daily. Plenty of natural and noninvasive methods can help us reduce our risk of cardiovascular disease—still the No. 1 killer of both men and women in the United States. Follow these 10 tips to improve your heart’s health.

1. Cut your exposure to secondhand smoke.

“Most people understand secondhand smoke is bad, but most people don’t realize how bad,” says Michael Blaha, assistant professor of cardiology and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a cardiologist at the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease. The latest research shows that people who expose themselves to secondhand smoke have a higher risk of heart disease than people with high cholesterol.

What Should You Do? It’s not enough not to smoke. If you live with someone who smokes, help her quit. If you have friends who smoke, ask them not to light up when you’re around. And don’t hang out in restaurants or bars that allow smoking.

2. Move more; sit less.

Thirty minutes of aerobic exercise a day isn’t going to be as preventive of heart disease as you may think if you sit in front of a computer all day, Blaha says. “It’s not only how much you exercise but how little you sit,” he says. “People who exercise some but sit a lot are at higher risk than those who continuously move throughout the day.” 

What Should You Do? This doesn’t mean if you sit at your desk all day, it’s not doing you any good to go to the gym after work; it just means you should try to add more movement throughout your day. Take a walk at lunchtime, take frequent breaks that require you to get up and move around, walk to a colleague’s office to get a question answered rather than emailing, and take the stairs instead of the elevator.

9/1/2014 12:32:19 PM

Unfortunately, recent studies have shown that soy feeds certain types of cancer. I haven't dug into it far enough to try to figure out why... if it's based on a predispostion...

8/22/2013 2:10:05 PM

unless you eat organic soy you are getting GMO poison

8/20/2013 7:27:44 AM

Not sure why my name is Blob on here!! I didn't create the name :)

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