Naturally, there’s nothing you can do to change your age, family history or ethnic background. However, you can do plenty about the other risk factors — either on your own or in concert with your health care provider.
Quit smoking. Smokers are much more likely than nonsmokers to suffer heart attacks and strokes and far more likely to die as a result.
Check your blood pressure. Diagnosing high blood pressure is easy — all you have to do is have it checked by your health care provider or do it on your own (blood pressure monitors are widely available).
Watch your cholesterol. A provider will have to order the test, but you should keep an eye on your numbers: Total cholesterol should be under 200; HDL (the “good” kind) should be over 40, LDL (the “bad” kind) should be under 100; the triglycerides should be under 150.
Eat right and get to a healthy weight. This means reducing sugars, red meats and highly processed foods, and increasing fruits, veggies, beans, nuts and whole grains.
Exercise. Try for 30 minutes every day, but only after checking with your provider to make sure you’re healthy enough.
Chill. We all feel stressed sometimes, but too much stress for too long a time can cause serious — and potentially deadly — problems.
Finally, build a partnership with a health care provider. Getting baseline readings for blood pressure, cholesterol and other markers could save your life. You’ll find an excellent list of which tests you should have and when at www.getitchecked.com. And you’ll find additional information on cardiovascular disease from Men’s Health Network at https://menshealthnetwork.org/library/Heartbeat.pdf.
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Armin Brott is the author of “Blueprint for Men’s Health,” “Your Head: An Owner’s Manual,” and many other works on men’s health. Visit him at HealthyMenToday.com or send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.