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Risk Factors for Heart Disease

  • High Blood Pressure. High blood pressure damages blood vessels. Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80. Keep your blood pressure in the normal range by following a healthy diet, reducing salt intake, exercising and taking your medications that are prescribed by your doctor.
  • Cigarette Smoking. Tobacco use in any form greatly increases blood pressure and your risk for stroke or heart attack. If you use tobacco, make every attempt to stop. Washington State’s free Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669) has many resources available that are free or at reduced cost to help you be successful. Read more about the Quit Line.
  • Diabetes. Many people with diabetes also have high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and are overweight. Diabetes causes disease in blood vessels. Keeping your blood sugar in normal range by diet, exercise and medications that are ordered by your doctor can reduce your risks.
  • Carotid Artery Disease. Fatty build up of plaque inside arteries from a diet high in fat and cholesterol combined with high blood pressure, diabetes or smoking greatly increases the risk of Stroke, Heart Attack and Heart Failure.
  • High Blood Cholesterol. Avoid foods high in fat or cholesterol and fried foods. Medication to control cholesterol may also be necessary.
  • Poor Diet. Eat a diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Choose olive oil instead of butter, and avoid foods with salt. Diets high in salt can raise blood pressure, cause fluid retention and can worsen heart failure symptoms.
  • Obesity and Physical Inactivity. As soon as your doctor approves physical activity do what you can to remain active, such as a brisk walk every day.
  • Atrial Fibrillation. This is an abnormal heart rhythm that causes the heart’s upper chamber to quiver instead of beating regularly. This can cause the blood to pool and clot. These blood clots can cause a stroke or a heart attack. If you have atrial fibrillation it is important to take the medication prescribed by your doctor to prevent reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.

Many risk factors for Stroke, Heart Failure and Heart Attacks can be decreased by a healthy lifestyle.