Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention | UnityPoint Health - Des Moines

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Heart disease is a leading killer among Americans today. Although some risk factors, such as family history and age, can't be changed, there are many ways to help prevent heart disease and stroke.

Have a Cardiac Disease Risk Assessment

Consult your physician about your personal risks for heart disease and stroke. Follow his or her advice on lifestyle changes and medical treatments, including medicine you may need, and if any heart tests are necessary.

Don't Smoke

Smoking more than doubles your risk for heart disease. Secondhand smoke is also very harmful. If you smoke, quit.

Control Your Blood Pressure

Help control your blood pressure by exercising regularly, eating healthy, limiting sodium (salt, and sodium in foods) and alcohol intake and not smoking. Have your blood pressure checked as recommended and take medicine if your doctor has prescribed it.

Control Your Cholesterol

Limit foods high in cholesterol. Foods high in saturated fats and trans fat can also raise your cholesterol. Have it checked as recommended and take medicines if needed.

Eat Healthy

Include more heart-healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your diet. Limit your sodium (salt, and sodium in foods) intake and get no more than 30 percent of your daily calories from fat.

Get Active

Regular aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, swimming or biking, strengthens your heart. Moderate-intensity activities, including leisure walking, housework and gardening, are also good for you. Try to include at least 30 minutes of physical activity most (preferably, all) days of the week.

Manage Stress

Stress increases your blood pressure and heart rate. Take time to relax. Exercise helps reduce stress, too.

Avoid Being Overweight

If you are overweight, make the effort to lose those extra pounds. Being overweight can contribute to heart disease and stroke.