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Lifestyle Changes


Dr. Mansfield
Making heart-healthy lifestyle changes can go a long way in slowing, stopping, or even reversing the buildup of plaque in the arteries. Captain Miller, what kind of lifestyle changes are good for the heart?

Captain Miller
Well, Dr. Mansfield, a great pl to start is with diet. Heart-healthy eating can lower both blood pressure and cholesterol. It's also an important part of any plan to lose excess weight. People with coronary artery disease should avoid eating a lot of red meat, palm and coconut oils, sugary foods and beverages, and foods with saturated fat and trans fat. They should also consider limiting the amount of sodium and alcohol they consume.

Increasing physical activity can also do great things for the heart. Exercising routinely can lower many coronary artery disease risk factors, including LDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, and excess weight. It can also lower the risk for diabetes and raise HDL cholesterol, which is the "good" cholesterol. All adults should do moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for at least 150 minutes per week, or 30 minutes per day, five days a week.

Of course, eating right and getting plenty of exercise are both important factors in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese increases the risk for heart disease, but the good news is that losing just three to five percent of your current body weight can lower many coronary artery disease risk factors.

Another important lifestyle change is learning to manage stress in a healthy way. Research shows that the most commonly reported trigger for a heart attack is an emotionally upsetting event. In addition, unhealthy coping strategies, such as excessively drinking alcohol, smoking, or overeating, can increase risk factors for coronary artery disease.

Finally, if you smoke, quit. Smoking raises the risk for coronary artery disease and heart attack and worsens other risk factors. Talk with your provider about programs and products that can help you quit smoking.