Preventing Heart Disease and Stroke
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 and 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 healthcare provider’s advice.
Remember your ABCS
ABCS stands for:
Keep the ABCS in mind every day. Bring it up when you talk with your health care provider.
Talk to your healthcare provider
When you talk with your health care provider, share your health history. Get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked. Follow your healthcare provider's advice about medicines. Also ask if taking an aspirin each day 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 3 adults in the U.S. has high blood pressure. Half of these people don’t have their condition under control.
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.
Veterans can reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke by monitoring their health with My HealtheVet. Log into your account to track your blood pressure and cholesterol levels online. If you don’t have an account already, register today.
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, transfat, and cholestero because they can make your cholesterol worsel. 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.
Obesity or being very overweight can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke. To keep your body at a healthy weight, 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 sendentary, walking can be a good start.
Smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease. 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.