Topic: Heart Attack Prevention
What are proven measures for preventing heart attacks and strokes?
The best way to prevent heart attacks and strokes is to prevent the atherosclerosis (cholesterol buildup) of the arteries. The most important measures to prevent atherosclerosis include:
- Stopping smoking
cigarettes; the day a person quits cigarette smoking that person
decreases his/her chance of dying of a heart attack by 50% that same day!
In other words the benefit of stopping cigarettes happens
- Lowering blood pressure to
below 140 systolic and below 90 diastolic; controlling high blood pressure
is especially important to prevent strokes. The brain arteries are more
fragile than arteries elsewhere in the body. Untreated high blood pressure
significantly increases the risks of stroke.
- Lowering total and LDL
cholesterol in the blood; cholesterol in proper
amounts is needed for making hormones and building cell membranes. But too
much cholesterol, especially excess amounts of the bad LDL cholesterol,
causes cholesterol to accumulate inside the inner (intimal) layer of the
arteries. Cholesterol accumulation in the inner artery can cause narrowing
and blockage of the heart arteries causing a heart attack. Whereas
blockage of the arteries to the brain can cause stroke.
Several studies have convincingly shown that lowering the
LDL cholesterol reduces the risks of heart attacks and
- On the other hand, HDL is a good cholesterol
that protects against atherosclerosis. Therefore, low HDL is a risk
factor for heart attack while high HDL cholesterol is
- Physical activity
; regular exercise has been shown
to decrease the chance of heart attacks. Regular exercise is important
in maintaining proper body weight and maintaining the proper cholesterol
metabolism. Regular exercise also helps to lower the LDL and raise the HDL
- The other issue is diabetes mellitus. It has been shown that people without diabetes have less chance of developing arteriosclerosis and artery blockages than people with diabetes. And in patients with diabetes, those patients who have better long term control of their blood sugar have less chances of having heart attacks or strokes than those with poor control of their blood sugar levels.
The published answers represent the opinions and perspectives of the doctors and pharmacists of MedicineNet.com and are for educational purposes only. They should not be used to replace or substitute for timely consultation with your doctor. Accuracy of information cannot be guaranteed.
Please remember, information can be subject to interpretation and can become obsolete.
For more information, please see Cholesterol Center.
Back to Doctors' Dialogue Index