How can I lower my risk of heart disease?

One in three U.S. women will develop heart disease. That's why we think it's so important for both men and women to learn the basics about prevention. While there are a few risk factors that are genetic and cannot be changed, many behaviors that raise the risk of heart disease can be changed.

To improve heart health, try to:

  • Stop smoking (and avoid secondhand smoke)
  • Increase activity levels: Exercise at least 30 minutes a day, and aim for a total of 5 to 7 hours of exercise per week
  • Eat fruits and vegetables daily
  • Follow a low-fat diet
  • Keep diabetes under control
  • Lower high blood pressure
  • Lower high cholesterol
  • Reduce or manage stress
  • Get weight within recommended range and maintain it there

Genetic risks for heart disease include:

  • Being age 50 or older
  • Having an African-American ethnic background
  • Being past menopause
  • Having a family history of heart disease or heart problems