Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood on June 08, 2012

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James Rippe, MD. Assoc. Professor of Medicine Tufts University School of Medicine

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Video Transcript

Narrator: What are five ways I can lower my risk or manage my heart disease?

James Rippe, MD: If you're concerned about heart disease, you should be. Because it is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States every year. About 37 percent of all mortality in the United States comes from heart disease alone, so it's by far, the leading killer. But the good news here is, the things you can do in your daily life profoundly impact on the likelihood that you'll develop heart disease. And if you already have heart disease, these same things can significantly improve your ability to manage your heart disease. And these are things that are within your power as part of your daily life. Don't smoke cigarettes, number one. It's a major risk factor. All of these are major risk factors for heart disease and in order to be a major risk factor, you have to at least double the risk of heart disease. So the danger is, each one of these that I'm about to talk about, the next five things, each of them independently doubles your risk for heart disease. Maintain a healthy cholesterol. Now some people will require medicines for that, but a lot of things that have to do with your daily diet, the amount of saturated fat, the amount of cholesterol in your diet are all, are both very, very important. Maintaining a proper blood pressure. High blood pressure is a significant risk factor for heart disease. There again, if your blood pressure is over 140 over 90, you're probably going to need medicines. But you can also get further lowering of your blood pressure by regular aerobic activity, weight loss, and lowering the amount of salt in your diet. The average American eats 5 times as much salt as is recommended by the American Heart Association. So there are lots of things you can do to help lower your blood pressure. The fourth thing is overweight or obesity. We used to think that overweight or obesity only drove heart disease because of its impact on other risk factors, but now it is very clear that if you are obese, you have a significant risk factor for heart disease just from the obesity itself. And the final thing is an inactive lifestyle. People who have an inactive lifestyle, and by that, by the Centers for Disease Control criteria, that's 60 percent of the adult population have an inactive lifestyle, increase their risk of heart disease as much as if they smoked a pack of cigarettes a day. So, if you are thinking about ways to lower your risk of heart disease, a great place to start is to become more physically active. So, become more physically active, maintain a proper body weight, control your blood pressure, control your cholesterol and don't smoke cigarettes. Those are the five factors that would significantly lower your risk of heart disease.