Preventing and Reversing Heart Disease For Dummies Cheat Sheet - dummies
Cheat Sheet

Preventing and Reversing Heart Disease For Dummies Cheat Sheet

From Preventing and Reversing Heart Disease For Dummies, 3rd Edition

By James M. Rippe

Even thinking about heart disease is no fun, but preventing it from happening in the first place (or managing heart disease if you do develop it) is often a matter of controlling your risk factors, eating right, exercising, and generally living a heart-healthy life. Lowering your stress levels comes into play as does knowing the warning signs of heart attack — just in case. So if you want the secrets to preventing heart disease and reversing your risk of heart disease in Twitter-sized bites, download these pithy lists to your mobile device and get going!

8 Guidelines for Heart-Healthy Nutrition

A heart-healthy diet can help you lower your blood pressure, lower your cholesterol levels, and decrease your risk of diabetes. It can also help you maintain a healthy weight. Here are eight nutrition tips that can help you turn your diet into a heart-healthy one:

  • Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables daily — at least five servings.

  • Select a variety of whole-grain foods daily. Make most of your breads, pasta, and cereals whole grains.

  • Choose lean proteins — select from lean meat and poultry, fish, low-fat dairy or dairy substitutes, legumes (beans) and soy foods, and nuts and seeds.

  • Choose healthy oils and fats, such as olive oil, in moderation and limit your intake of saturated fat. Aim for zero trans fat.

  • Use less salt and choose prepared foods with less salt.

  • Choose beverages and foods to moderate your intake of sugar.

  • If you consume alcohol, do so in moderation.

  • Do not consume more calories than are required to maintain your best body weight.

6 Keys to Modifying Your Risk Factors for Heart Disease

Some risk factors for heart disease, such as age and genetics, are ones that you cannot change. Therefore, preventing heart disease requires controlling the risk factors that you can modify. Here are five modifiable risk factors related to your daily habits and practices to focus on as you embrace a heart-healthy lifestyle:

  • Control high blood pressure. Optimal blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg or below.

  • Control your cholesterol levels. Desirable levels for total cholesterol are below 200 mg/dl. The lower, the better. Aim to lower your low-density lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol) as much as possible.

  • Accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most, if not all, days. Get at least 150 minutes weekly. Include two days of strength training.

  • Maintain your body weight at healthy levels. Aim for a body mass index between 19 and 25.

  • Maintain a fasting glucose level of less than 100 mg/dL (untreated).

  • If you smoke, quit.

5 Keys to Staying with Your Physical Activity Program

Regular exercise and physical activity promote cardiovascular fitness and heart health. These five tips can help you stick with your activity program — and get in great shape:

  • Set a time and place. Plan at least one activity like a short walk at lunch, and other opportunities will fall in place.

  • Be prepared. Adopt a mind-set that emphasizes more physical activity.

  • Include family and friends. Walking or doing other activities with an exercise partner helps keep you accountable.

  • Have fun. You’ll stick with something you like.

  • Prioritize. Make getting physical activity as important a priority as other objectives in your life.

4 Tips for Lowering Stress to Protect Heart Health

Too much stress damages heart health. Use these simple and effective strategies to reduce the impact of everyday stress on your mental and physical well-being:

  • Modify factors that can compound stress. Get enough rest and sleep. Don’t binge on caffeine. Get plenty of physical activity.

  • Live in the present. Quit fearing the future or regretting the past. Make the most of today.

  • Get out of your own way. Don’t dwell on the negative or indulge in negative self-talk.

  • Take time out. Step away from it all for ten minutes a day. Take a stroll. Meditate. Nap. Tune into the calm.

8 Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Heart Disease

When you’re being evaluated for heart disease — or any other condition, for that matter — asking these questions can help you get the information you need:

  • What is my diagnosis?

  • What tests will I need to undergo?

  • Do these tests have any side effects or dangers?

  • What is the recommended treatment?

  • What are the potential side effects of the treatment?

  • What treatment choices are available?

  • Should I be asking any other questions?

  • Is there any source of information that I can read about my diagnosis?

5 Warning Signs of Heart Attack

Even if you’ve never had a single sign of trouble, call 911 and go straight to the hospital for prompt evaluation if you experience any of these warning signs of heart attack:

  • Chest pain or discomfort — uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing, or pain in the center of the chest lasting more than a few minutes.

  • Pain spreading to the shoulders, neck, or arms.

  • Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort.

  • Chest discomfort with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea, or shortness of breath.

  • Pain in the back and/or jaw, shortness of breath, extreme fatigue, nausea/vomiting, and lightheadedness. Note: These are additional signs of heart attack or more common signs of heart attack in women.

7 Major Risk Factors for Coronary Heart Disease

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of men and women in the United States. By modifying your daily lifestyle practices, you can help control the following seven risk factors for heart disease and lower your risk of developing heart disease or experiencing a heart attack or stroke:

  • High blood pressure

  • Elevated cholesterol

  • Cigarette smoking

  • Inactive lifestyle

  • Obesity

  • Diabetes

  • Stress