6 activities that can prevent 70% of heart attacks

Heart-healthy diet - Anne Arundel Medical Center

The number one killer in America is heart disease. What if I told you there were six things you could do to make you 70 percent less likely to have a heart attack?

A study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that if women followed six healthy lifestyle habits—just six—they were 92 percent less likely to develop heart disease. Not only that, but these six simple activities also could have prevented 70 percent of heart attacks in the study group.

Lifestyle Habits to Prevent Heart Attacks

  1. Maintaining a healthy diet.
  2. Having only one or no alcoholic drinks a day.
  3. Exercising two-and-a-half hours weekly.
  4. Watching seven or fewer hours of TV per week.
  5. Being smoke-free.
  6. Keeping a healthy BMI or Body Mass Index, which is really your weight.

As a cardiologist, what I found interesting about this study is that it focused on heart disease risk factors rather than just preventing heart attacks. Of course, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and to call 911 immediately if you think you or a loved one is experiencing one. But it’s also time we get more proactive about our heart health.

Small Changes Make a Huge Difference

If you think about the six habits that were studied— eating a healthy diet, limiting alcohol, exercising, watching less TV, not smoking and keeping a healthy weight—I think we can all agree it wouldn’t be too hard to change a few of these in our own lives for the sake of a healthier heart and, in turn, a longer life.

Some heart disease risk factors are beyond our control, such as age and family history. But there are more factors you can control either through lifestyle changes or medication from your doctor.

Learn your risk for heart disease with our free online heart health profiler at askAAMC.org/HeartHealth and take the first step toward having a healthy heart for life.

Barbara Hutchinson, MD, is a cardiologist at Anne Arundel Medical Center. To reach her office, call 410-573-9805.

Originally published Jan. 30, 2015. Last updated Feb. 3, 2020.

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