We have learned a tremendous amount in recent years about the risk factors that predispose us to heart disease. One of the important things we have learned is that each of us has significant control over most of these risk factors. And therefore, to a large extent, each of us holds our cardiac fate in our own hands. Even people who have strong a genetic predisposition to heart disease can often significantly delay the onset of heart problems by adopting healthy lifestyles.
There are at least eight categories of lifestyle choices that can substantially impact your odds of developing heart disease. The following is a list of resources that will help you understand the kinds of lifestyle changes you can make, in each of these eight categories, to help prevent heart disease and keep your heart healthy.
1) Manage Your Diet and WeightA poor diet often leads to obesity, and obesity can be very damaging to the heart and vascular system (especially when it is accompanied by a sedentary lifestyle). These articles will help you understand the risk, and what you can do about it.
- How bad is obesity, really?
- The BMI controversy
- Fat and fit
- Transfats and the heart
- Low fat vs. low carb diets
- Cholesterol lowering diet
- The Mediterranean diet
- Exercise for weight loss - 101
2) Get Plenty of ExerciseA sedentary lifestyle is very bad for the entire cardiovascular system, and it can also contribute to metabolic problems, such as high cholesterol and high blood sugar. Getting plenty of exercise is one of the best things you can do for your heart. Here is some important information on preventing heart disease with exercise.
- How much exercise do you really need?
- Heart healthy exercise guidelines
- Exercise and HDL cholesterol
- Exercise for beginners
- Cardiac rehabilitation
3) Don't SmokeOf all the things you can do to ruin your health, smoking is the most ruinous. If you smoke you are likely to develop heart disease decades earlier than you otherwise might. Even if you don't develop premature heart disease, you will likely suffer from one of the other scourges of smoking - cancer, lung disease, premature aging, and other conditions that make you sickly, or wrinkly and old, before your time. Here is some important information for smokers.
- Smoking - leading cause of premature heart attacks
- The facts about smoking and heart disease
- Why you should quit smoking TODAY (as opposed to tomorrow)
- Your quit-smoking tool box
4) Manage Your Cholesterol LevelsBlood lipids - cholesterol and triglycerides - are important determinants of cardiac risk. Here's what you should know about bad cholesterol, good cholesterol, and the things you can do - diet, lifestyle and medications - to keep your cardiac risk as low as possible.
- Cholesterol and triglycerides - why they're important
- Can you lower cholesterol without prescription drugs?
- Raising your HDL (good) cholesterol
- Exercise and HDL cholesterol
- Cholesterol-lowering diets
- The statin drugs
- Children and cholesterol
5) Manage Your Blood PressureHypertension (high blood pressure) is extremely common, and is often poorly treated. Unfortunately, inadequately-treated hypertension can lead to both heart attacks and especially strokes. Here is some basic information you should know about blood pressure.
- High blood pressure - the basics
- New treatment goals for hypertension
- High blood pressure - is salt restriction necessary?
- Blood pressure medication
6) Learn to Manage StressDoes stress really cause heart disease? What kind of stress? And what can you do about it? The following articles will help answer these questions.
- Does stress really cause heart disease?
- How bad is emotional stress, and what can you do about it?
- How to manage your stress, to protect your heart
7) Control Your Blood SugarInsulin resistance - which can manifest as either diabetes of metabolic syndrome - leads to high blood sugar and a host of other metabolic problems that greatly increase your risk of heart disease. Here is some important information on diabetes, metabolic syndrome and heart disease.
- What is the connection between diabetes and heart disease?
- What is metabolic syndrome?
- What's the controversy over metabolic syndrome?
- Preventing diabetes
- Tips for managing diabetes
8) Other Things You Should Know To Keep Your Heart HealthyIn addition to all of the above, there are several other risk factors and lifestyle choices that may impact on your chances of getting heart disease. Some of these are listed here.
- Cardiac risk with Cox-2 drugs and other NSAIDs
- Erectile dysfunction (ED) and cardiac risk
- Is heart disease linked to oral hygiene?
- Alcohol and the heart
- Hidden hypothyroidism increases cardiac risk