Keep Your Heart Healthy


General Information: Introduction

Heart disease is the leading cause of death of men and women in the United States. Take action today to reduce the risk of suffering them.

To prevent heart disease you can do the following:

  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Stay active
  • Keep a healthy weight.
  • Stop smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.
  • Control cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • If you drink alcohol, do it in moderation.
  • Controlling stress.

Am I at risk of heart disease?

Everyone is at risk of heart disease, but the risk is greater if:

  • You have high cholesterol or high blood pressure.
  • You are a smoker
  • You are overweight or obese.
  • You don’t do enough physical activity.
  • You do not eat a healthy diet.

Your age and family history also influence the risk of heart disease. You are at greater risk if:

  • You are a woman over 55 years old.
  • You are a man over 45 years old.
  • Your father or your brother had heart disease before age 55.
  • Your mother or sister had heart disease before age 65.

The good thing is that you can do many things to prevent heart disease.

What are heart disease?

When people talk about heart disease, they usually refer to coronary heart disease, which is also known as coronary artery disease. This is the most common type of heart disease.

In coronary heart disease, the coronary arteries (the blood vessels that carry blood to the heart) are narrowed or clogged. This occurs when cholesterol and fats accumulate inside the arteries, forming what is called “plaque.”

The plate is due to:

  • Excess fat and cholesterol in the blood
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Excess blood sugar (diabetes)

What is the heart attack?

The heart attack (or heart attack) occurs when the flow of blood that reaches the heart is suddenly blocked. Part of the heart can die if the person does not receive medical attention quickly.

Among the common signs and symptoms of heart attack are:

  • Pain or discomfort in the center or left side of the chest (or feeling of pressure, squeeze or fullness)
  • Pain or discomfort in the upper body (arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach above the navel)
  • Feeling short of breath or difficulty breathing (during rest or activity)
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Stomach ache or heartburn
  • Feeling dizzy, lightheaded or tired out of the ordinary
  • Cold sweat

If there are changes in the way you feel, don’t overlook them.

Signs of heart attack often occur suddenly. However, sometimes they appear slowly: hours, days and even weeks before the heart attack happens.

Talk to the doctor if you feel tired for no reason for several days or if you have other health problems (such as pain or trouble breathing) that you didn’t have before. It is also important to tell you if the health problems you already had (such as pain) bother you more than usual

If you have had a heart attack before, it is important that you know that the symptoms of a new heart attack may be different from those of the previous attack. Talk to the doctor if you are worried about how you feel.

Take action: Know your figures

Take action today to reduce the risk of heart disease.

Control cholesterol and blood pressure.

High cholesterol and high blood pressure can cause heart disease and heart attacks. If you have high cholesterol or blood pressure, you can take steps to reduce them.

Take action: Talk to the doctor

Find out about your family’s medical history.

Family medical history influences your risk of heart disease (in English) and so you will have a record of your family’s health. Share this information with the doctor or nurse.

If you are concerned about the risk of any of your family members from suffering from heart disease, 

Take action: Food and alcohol consumption

Eat a healthy diet.

Eating a healthy diet can reduce the risk of heart disease. Heart-healthy eating contains foods that have low amounts of saturated fats, trans fats , added sugars and sodium (salt).

Heart-healthy foods include those that contain a lot of fiber (whole grains, fruits and vegetables) and certain fats (such as those found in olive oil and fish). Use this shopping list to find foods that protect heart health .

Look for heart-healthy recipes on these websites:

  • Keep the Beat ™ (in English)
  • African-American-style heart-healthy recipes [PDF, 3 MB] (in English)
  • Latin dishes: tasty and healthy! [PDF, 3 MB]

Look at these tips to protect the heart when you eat out . For example, order a salad instead of French fries or French fries.

If you drink alcohol, do it in moderation.

If you decide to drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation . Limit yourself to one alcoholic drink a day if you are a woman and two alcoholic drinks a day if you are a man. Drinking too much can raise the risk of heart disease.

Ask the doctor if you should take aspirin every day.

If you are between 50 and 59 years old, taking aspirin every day may reduce the risk of having a heart attack or a stroke, but this is not recommended for everyone. Talk to the doctor to see if you should take aspirin .

Ask the doctor if you should take medication to reduce the risk of having a heart attack or stroke (stroke or stroke).

Experts recommend that some people between 40 and 75 take medications called statins if they are at high risk of having a heart attack or stroke. These questions will help you talk to the doctor about statins .

You May Also Like

About the Author: Peter Beaumont

Peter Beaumont is a senior reporter on the Guardian's Global Development desk. He has reported extensively from conflict zones including Africa, the Balkans and the Middle East and is the author of The Secret Life of War: Journeys Through Modern Conflict. Email: