By Liliana Cohen, MD, FACC
New guidelines from the American Heart Association recommend relying on more than just the absolute cholesterol numbers and doctors are looking at other factors that increase risk. Critical red flags include: a previous history or family history of heart attack or stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, advanced age, gender, smoking, and race.
It is important that patients and physicians work closely to prevent cardiovascular disease. Lifestyle modifications such as exercising regularly and eating a heart-healthy diet can reduce the need for medication. Below we’ve put together 4 easy ways that can help you reduce cholesterol.
The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week.
Fill your plate with whole grains and heart-healthy fruits and vegetables. Reduce saturated fat by limiting dairy and red meat to once a week. Avoid processed foods that contain added salt. Eat fish twice a week.
Make a plan to quit smoking and inform your family and friends. After only one year, your risk of developing heart disease is cut in half.
Excess alcohol can lead to cardiovascular disease and stroke. Limit wine and other spirits to no more than one drink a day for women and two for men.
Individuals who are not at risk and do not show signs of cardiovascular disease should have an annual assessment with their primary care physician. In families with a strong history of heart attack and stroke, testing should begin in early adulthood.