Heart disease, or cardiovascular disease, is a buildup of plaque in the arteries that causes blockages or blood clots and can lead to a heart attack.  If the blood flow to a part of the heart muscle is completely cut off due to a blockage or clot, that part of the muscle begins to die.  The risk of a heart attack increases with age.  While men have a greater risk of suffering a heart attack earlier in life, a woman’s risk increases after menopause.

Lowering risk of heart attack


There are some risk factors for cardiovascular disease and heart attack that people cannot control, such as age and family history of the disease.  However, other risk factors can be managed through healthy lifestyle choices.  Here are some tips that may help lower the risk for heart attack.

  • Quit smoking

Smoking increases the risk of developing heart disease by increasing blood pressure and decreasing HDL (good) cholesterol.

  • Maintain a healthy weight

Eat a healthy diet and lose those extra pounds.  In addition to heart disease, obesity also increases the risk of developing high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

  • Stay physically active

Research has shown that moderate exercise 3-4 times per week can help lower blood pressure, keep weight at a healthy level, and lower the risk of heart attacks.

  • Monitor high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and diabetes

All of these factors can contribute to heart disease, if not controlled.  If lifestyle changes have not been effective in controlling these issues, your health care provider can prescribe medications that can help.

  • Limit alcohol consumption

Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure, contribute to obesity, and raise triglyceride levels.

  • Manage stress levels

Increased stress has been linked to coronary heart disease.  Stress may cause people to eat, drink, or smoke more than they normally would.  Exercise, meditation, relaxation techniques, and getting enough rest may help reduce stress.