A Patient's Guide to Preventing and Managing Heart Disease
Prevent heart disease by taking control of your heart health. While some factors to developing heart disease may be unavoidable such as family history or your age, there are a number of risk factors that you can control.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and around the world. Simply knowing your risk factors allows you to take control of your health by managing, or even eliminating these risks. The experts at the Smidt Heart Institute can help diagnose and treat any conditions you may have and develop a plan to keep you healthy.
Some people seek help when they first notice chest pain, shortness of breath and palpitations. Patients should act at the first sign that they might be at risk: a family history of heart disease. Other key risk factors for heart disease include:
- High cholesterol and blood pressure
- Sedentary lifestyle
Reduce Your Risk
Once you've determined you have one or more risk factors, take action to reduce your risk. Some suggestions are:
- Diet: Eat heart-healthy foods. Fuel your body with vegetables, fruits, whole grains and fish. Reduce your intake of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol. Limit your salt intake to no more than 2,300 milligrams per day, or 1,500 milligrams if you have heart-disease risk. Learn more about Cedars-Sinai's Nutritional Counseling Program.
- Exercise: Regular aerobic exercise helps manage your risk of heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, just 30 minutes of moderate intensity daily, 5 days a week is sufficient to reduce your risk. To further reduce your risk, increase your goal to 40 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity 3 to 4 times a week.
- Stop smoking and limit alcohol. Don't hesitate to seek assistance through a smoking cessation program that can provide extra tools and support. Alcohol consumption should be limited to no more than 2 drinks per day for men and no more than 1 for women. More than this amount increases risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and other diseases. Learn more about Smoking Cessation Support at Cedars-Sinai.
- Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep has been linked to higher blood pressure and higher risk of stroke and heart attack. Aim for 6 to 8 hours a night.
- Know your numbers. Know your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Routine screening can help identify any problems and keep these numbers in a healthy range.
- Medications: We all need a little help sometimes, including in lowering our heart risk. Medications such as aspirin, statins and others are powerful tools that apply to certain patients. Discuss your risk with your doctor and if medications are the right choice for you.
Explore Programs & Services
Already diagnosed with a heart condition? You can receive expert care and learn how to best manage your symptoms, no matter your heart condition.
Prepare for Heart Test or Procedure
If you will be having a heart test or procedure soon, there are a few important steps to keep in mind. Learn more about what you need to do to prepare.