How to Reduce the Risk of Heart Attack PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Niru Prasad   

by Niru Prasad MD, FAAP, FACEP

Department of Emergency Medicine
Henry Ford Hospital-West Bloomfield Center
Department of Pediatrics and Urgent Care Center

St. Joseph Mercy Hospital-Pontiac

You can reduce the risk of heart attack by following these preventive measures.

1.   Blood Pressure
High blood pressure damages the arteries throughout your body 

leading to plaque formation which predisposes to heart 

attack and stroke.  High blood pressure can be hereditary for 

which nothing can be done.  However, the risk can be reduced by:
a.	Limiting alcohol intake

b.	Reducing salt intake

c.	weight control

d.	Reducing stress by exercise and relaxation

e.	Seeking medical help if blood pressure is 

	over 140/90 on several occasions
2.	Cholesterol Level
A total cholesterol level above 240 with elevated low density 

lipoprotein increases the risk of heart attack.  The high 

density lipoprotein circulating through the blood vessels 

prevents clot formation and keeps arteries clear.  Some 

preventive measures to reduce cholesterol are:
a.	Limiting saturated fat found in meats 

	and dairy products and replacing with 

	monosaturated fat such as canola and 

	olive oils

b.	Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, 

	beans and grain
If your cholesterol level is consistently high, seek medical 

help for cholesterol-reducing medication.
3.	Diabetes
Diabetes, both Type 1 (insulin-dependent) and Type II (non 

insulin-dependent),  predisposes you to heart attack by damaging 

the arteries.  The risk can be reduced by controlling blood 

sugar with diet control, exercise, weight loss and 

medications like insulin or hypoglycemic agent.
4.	Smoking
Smoking cigarettes and tobacco causes damage to the blood 

vessels by constriction and reduces the blood supply to your 

heart and lungs, increasing the risk of heart attack and lung 

disease.  The risk can be reduced by:
a.	Quitting smoking

b.	Seeking medical help if you cannot quit 

	regarding the use of nicotine gum or patches
5.	obesity
Excess weight increases your risk of hypertension, heart 

attack and diabetes.  To reduce the risk:
a.	Lose weight safely

b.	Change your eating habits by limiting fat and 

	extra carbohydrate

c.	Exercise regularly
6.   Exercise
Your heart needs exercise to keep the muscle active and 

strong. Moderate exercises like regular walking help lose 

weight faster than occasional heavy workouts.  Do exercise 

on a regular basis.
7.   Alcohol
Excess alcohol consumption increases the risk of heart 

attack; however, it has been proved that alcohol increases 

the high density lipoprotein in the blood and inhibits 

clotting.  It is safe to take one or two drinks of alcohol 

a day.  But non-drinkers don't need to start drinking to 

protect their heart since it can become habit forming!
8.	Hormone Replacement
The post-menopausal woman should take estrogen and 

progesterone combination to reduce the risk of 

osteoporosis and heart attack. Taking aspirin (one tablet 

a day) on a regular basis reduces the risk of heart attack 

in both men and women.
By controlling these risk factors, you can lead a healthy 

life and live longer.