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Lifestyle Changes

Primary risk factors for chronic disease

At the top of the CDC's list of primary risk factors for all chronic diseases are: smoking, poor nutrition, and sedentary lifestyle.

Living a healthier lifestyle can help to prevent heart disease. This includes the following:

  • Eliminating all tobacco products

  • Adhering to a heart-healthy diet

  • Following an appropriate exercise program

Eliminate all tobacco products

You should be aware that all tobacco products are included as risk factors for chronic illness, not just cigarettes. And, although there may be medical uses from derivatives of some social drugs, such as alcohol, there is no therapeutic use for nicotine. As soon as you stop smoking, your body begins to heal itself from the devastating effects of tobacco.

Adhere to a heart-healthy diet

One aspect of managing your heart attack risk factors includes eating a heart-healthy diet that includes appropriate levels of the following:

  • Calories

  • Cholesterol

  • Fat

  • Fiber

  • Sodium

To try to eliminate any confusion, the federal government has established a food plate and food labeling laws. The food plate can help you eat a variety of foods while encouraging the right amount of calories and fat.

To find more information about the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 and to determine the appropriate dietary recommendations for your age, sex, and physical activity level, visit the Online Resources page for the links to the ChooseMyPlate.gov and 2010 Dietary Guidelines sites. Please note that My Plate is designed for people over the age of 2 who do not have chronic health conditions.

Maintaining a heart-healthy, balanced diet will help to:

  • Manage stroke and heart-attack risk factors.

  • Prevent or manage other chronic diseases.

  • Assist in losing weight and boosting energy.

  • Promote overall good health.

Follow an appropriate exercise program

One vital step toward reducing your chances of having a heart attack is making the time to exercise. Today, with our fast-paced society, people must schedule time to exercise. Choose an activity that you enjoy doing, then talk with your health care provider about an exercise plan that meets your individual capabilities and needs.

An exercise program will help in the management of almost all stroke and heart attack risk factors. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommend that an individual engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, above usual activity, at work or home on most days of the week. Regular physical activity will help to promote health, psychological well-being, and a healthy body weight.

Always consult your health care provider regarding your healthy diet and exercise requirements.