Ways to Lower Risk of a Heart Attack or Stroke

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States; and stroke ranks at number five. One of the biggest contributors to these statistics is a lack of commitment to a heart healthy lifestyle. Your lifestyle is not only your best defense against heart disease and stroke, it’s also your responsibility. By following these simple steps, you can reduce your risk for heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

  1. Exercise a little each day

Moderate physical activity lowers your chances of a heart attack. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise that gets your heart pumping at least 5 days a week. Brisk walking or swimming are some good choices. On the other 2 days, do strength training, such as lifting weights.

If you’ve got a tight schedule, break your exercise routine into small chunks. Try a 15-minute walk in the morning and another before lunch.

  1. Set a reasonable goal for weight loss

If you’re overweight or obese, you don’t have to get thin to reduce your risk for a heart attack or stroke. If you lose 5% to 10% of your weight, you’ll improve your cholesterol numbers and lower your blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

  1. Take your heart medicine

Don’t skip your meds. Many people don’t take their medications the way their doctor told them to. Figure out what keeps you from taking your medicine — it could be side effects, cost, or forgetfulness — and ask your doctor for assistance.

  1. Eat Well

Fill your plate with different kinds of fruits, veggies, whole grains, fish, and lean meats. Stay away from processed or prepared foods that often are high in salt and added sugar. They’re also filled with preservatives.

  1. Drink Some Wine, but Not Too Much

If you drink red wine, it has been shown to help your heart, but use caution. Too much raises your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.

To get the benefit without the risk, stop at one drink a day if you’re a woman and two if you’re a man.

  1. Eat a Little Chocolate

Go for dark chocolate, and make sure the ingredients are at least 70% cacao. It’s filled with nutrients that help protect your ticker. Keep your portions small, so you don’t gain weight and work your heart harder.

  1. Don’t Smoke

Smoking dramatically raises your risk of heart attacks and strokes. Talk to your doctor about how to quit. You’ll also be doing your friends and family a favor, since secondhand smoke can also lead to heart disease.

  1. Pay Attention to Your Symptoms

Don’t just hope they’ll go away. Call us, or call 911 in an emergency, if you feel anything unusual, like shortness of breath, changes in your heart rhythm, or extreme tiredness. Also, watch for pain in your jaw or back, nausea or vomiting, sweating, or flu-like symptoms.

If you have specific health concerns, such as those described above, please call Prosperity Internal Medicine at 703-876-9300 to get checked. Our group uses the latest advances in medicine, offering our patients access to innovative health management technologies, proactive team-based care, and an evidenced-based, patient-centered approach.