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5 Ways To Prevent Heart Disease

Last updated: March 2023

I am aware there is a high risk for heart disease in my family. My mom and her 7 siblings all have/had high blood pressure, and of those who passed away, all passed as a result of heart disease and heart failure. This makes sense, considering heart disease is the number 1 cause of death in the United States.

Elevated risk is evident in my family, and my mom reminds me over and over of this risk. So I make an effort to do what I can to lower my risk for heart issues in the future. What can I do to keep my heart healthy? What can you do to lower your risk for heart disease and heart failure?

According to the CDC, there are several things you can do to lower your risk for heart-related issues, especially if you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes. These include:1

  • Check your blood pressure
  • Check your cholesterol
  • Control your diabetes
  • Take your medicines
  • See your doctor regularly

Check your blood pressure

Mom said there was a 100 percent chance I'd eventually have high blood pressure (hypertension), and she was 100 percent right. About 15 years ago I earned the official diagnosis of hypertension. I was prescribed a low-dose blood pressure medicine, and I’ve been on it ever since. Thankfully, this medicine has worked well for managing my blood pressure, and at the present time, my blood pressure is well controlled.

Check your cholesterol

Cholesterol is a sticky substance that can lead to heart diseases like atherosclerosis. Mom never said anything about cholesterol when I was younger. This was probably because she never had an issue with it until she was older. Well, now I am older (sort of – I’m over 50) and my cholesterol level has been elevated for over a year now. Last year my doctor said he wasn’t going to prescribe anything, and to try lowering it with a healthy diet. This year he said the same thing. He said it’s high but not high enough yet to take medicine for. So, I’m really trying to lower it through my diet.

Control your diabetes

Thankfully, I do not have diabetes, so I don't have to deal with this one. However, like my cholesterol, my sugar has been slightly elevated. My doctor said it's just high enough to be concerned but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes. Like with my cholesterol level, I'm trying to lower my sugar (glucose) level through a healthy diet.

Take your medicines

The last time I checked, there were 17 medicines I'd been prescribed by my various doctors. Most of them are for asthma, and most of these are only used as needed. My blood pressure medicine is the only pill I take daily. This makes it easy to stay compliant. I am in the habit of taking all of my medicines before bed. This way, if they cause side effects (such as fatigue) I sleep through them. So far, my blood pressure medicine has not caused me any issues. (It does make me cough, but I’m willing to deal with that so long as it does its job.)

See your doctor regularly

I’m good here. For my asthma, I already have to see my doctor once a year at a minimum. And because I take blood pressure medicine, my doctor wants to see me every 6 months to monitor my blood pressure. I'm good about seeing my doctor on schedule, and so far I'm happy to say he has done a good job of managing my medical issues, including my elevated risk for heart disease and heart failure.

What else can you do to prevent heart disease?

Other things you can do to reduce your risk include eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, avoiding cigarette smoke, avoiding too much alcohol, maintaining a healthy weight, and managing stress. So, in my own way, I make gallant efforts to do all of these. As with anyone else, I am certainly not perfect. Still, my mom says she's proud of me and my efforts at keeping my heart healthy!2

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