Exercise: Get at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise as many days of the week as you can.
Diet: Maintain a low-fat, low cholesterol diet, rich in fresh fruit and vegetables.
Quit smoking: If you smoke, it is never too late to achieve the health benefits of quitting; if you do not smoke, do not start!
Blood pressure: If you have high blood pressure, make sure that your blood pressure is kept in the normal range (120/80).
Cholesterol: Know your cholesterol and maintain a low LDL (“bad”) cholesterol with a combination of diet and medication if necessary.
Diabetes: If you are diabetic, try to maintain good glucose control through medication, diet, and weight-loss.
Exercise is a vital component of a heart-healthy lifestyle. Without regular aerobic exercise, most diet programs for weight loss will be unsuccessful. It is important to get at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise as many days of the week as possible (at least 5). Speak with your doctor before beginning any exercise program, particularly if you have heart disease.
Cholesterol is an important constituent of many of the body’s mechanisms, but is also a causative factor in the development of heart disease. Cholesterol enters the body both by eating cholesterol-containing foods and via the normal process by which the body manufactures it. When you have a cholesterol (or “lipid”) profile done, several important measurements are performed on your blood.
LDL cholesterol: This is the “bad” cholesterol that has been linked to the development of cardiovascular disease. Having a high LDL cholesterol, along with other risk factors such as high blood pressure and cigarette use, may lead to heart disease. Oxidized LDL-cholesterol is a major component of plaques that accumulate in blood vessel walls and can lead to both stroke and heart attack. LDL cholesterol can be lowered both by eating a diet low in animal fat and cholesterol and sometimes with medications known as “statins.”
HDL cholesterol: This is the “good” cholesterol which appears to have a protective effect against the development of heart disease. HDL cholesterol may be raised by exercise, moderate alcohol intake and with certain medications, most notably “fibrates” and niacin.