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Did you know that heart disease and heart attacks are preventable? Heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women, doesn’t have to be a death sentence. Heart specialists have identified essential ways to reduce the risk of heart disease. These involve reducing the factors that lead to clogged arteries, which can restrict or cut off blood flow to the heart.

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How to Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

  1. If you smoke, stop: Smoking causes a buildup of fatty substances in the arteries.
  2. Lower your blood pressure: High blood pressure makes the heart pump harder and can cause artery walls to bulge or burst.
  3. Lower your cholesterol: High cholesterol results in accumulation of plaque in the arteries.
  4. Get treatment for diabetes: Diabetes causes inflammation of blood vessels and results in more plaque-forming cholesterol.
  5. Reduce your waistline: Abdominal obesity increases cholesterol levels, plaque, and inflammation of arteries.
  6. Reduce stress: Stress can increase cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
  7. Eat healthy: High-fat diets increase cholesterol. Eat foods low in fat, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
  8. Exercise: 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week burns fat and lowers cholesterol.
  9. Drink alcohol in moderation: Individuals whose lifestyles include one 12-ounce beer, one four-ounce glass of wine, or one ounce of liquor up to three times a week have been shown to have a reduced risk of heart disease. Consumption in excess of that increases the risk of heart disease.
  10. Eat less: Reducing total calorie intake reduces fat that raises cholesterol.

If you are at risk, or think you may be at risk for any of these factors, or to learn more about how to reduce your risk, consult your primary care physician or visit UPMC’s Heart and Vascular Institute at

About Heart and Vascular Institute

The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute has long been a leader in cardiovascular care, with a rich history in clinical research and innovation. As one of the first heart transplant centers in the country and as the developer of one of the first heart-assist devices, UPMC has contributed to advancing the field of cardiovascular medicine. We strive to provide the most advanced, cutting-edge care for our patients, treating both common and complex conditions. We also offer services that seek to improve the health of our communities, including heart screenings, free clinics, and heart health education. Find an expert near you.