Philip A. Ades, MD, is Director of Preventive Cardiology and Cardiac Rehabilitation at the UVM Medical Center.

Cardiovascular disease is the major cause of death and a major cause of premature disability in the U.S.  Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is due to atherosclerosis (“blockages”) in the coronary arteries.  More than 90% of CHD cases can be prevented by a healthy lifestyle and treatment of coronary risk factors.

Here are the 10 most important things you can do to prevent CHD:

1. Don’t Smoke
If you smoke, commit to stop.  You can get help from the Vermont Smoking Quit Line, 1-800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669) or call your physician’s office (ask for the office nurse).

2. Exercise Regularly
This can be as simple as a daily 30 minute walk, though “more is better”.  A little is far better than nothing.

3. Maintain a Normal Body Weight

4. “Know your Numbers”: Cholesterol Profile
Check your cholesterol profile and optimize the numbers with your doctor.  Treatments are diet first and medications as needed.

5. “Know your Numbers”: Blood Pressure
Optimize measures with your doctor.  Non-drug treatments should be tried first and include weight control, exercise and salt restriction.

6.  Avoid Dietary Trans Fats Entirely
These are found in fried fast foods, margarines and spreads.

7. Eat a Healthy Diet
It should be high in vegetables and fruits, low in animal and dairy fats, it should include fish and should be low in simple starches and sugar.  An alcoholic drink each day is acceptable.

8. Know your Family History for Heart Disease, Diabetes, High Cholesterol and High Blood Pressure
A family history of CHD is not a death sentence, it is a “call to arms”.  Cardiac Risk Factors are modifiable and treatable.  “Know your numbers”!

9.  When Possible, Recognize and Treat Mental Depression, Anxiety and Family Stress

10. Work Fun into your Life
Socializing, vacations, exercise and outdoor activities all correlate with good health.

For more information on cardiac prevention and healthy eating, please see:

The Eating Well Healthy Heart Cookbook
By Philip A. Ades, MD and the Editors of Eating Well
Foreword by Howard Dean, MD and Judith Steinberg, MD
The Countryman Press, WW Norton and Co. 2008

Available at the UVM Medical Center Gift Shop, the UVM Medical Center Cardiac Rehab Program, local bookstores and Amazon.com.

Philip A. Ades, MD, is Director of Preventive Cardiology and Cardiac Rehabilitation at the UVM Medical Center.

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