Skip to content

Heart Disease Health Center

Font Size

6 Steps to Longer Life, Healthy Heart

These Strategies Could Prevent More Than 27 Million Heart Attacks, Experts Estimate
By
WebMD Health News

July 7, 2008 -- Living longer, with a healthier heart, boils down to a few steps, and if everyone got on the bandwagon, it could prevent more than 27 million heart attacks and about 10 million strokes over the next 30 years.

That news comes from a study backed by the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, and American Cancer Society.

Here are those steps:

  • Quit smoking
  • Get your BMI ( body mass index) out of the obese range
  • Get your LDL ("bad") cholesterol under control
  • Get your blood pressure into the normal range
  • Get your blood sugar under control, especially if you have diabetes
  • Take aspirin if your doctor tells you to because of heart disease risk

If you're like 78% of U.S. adults aged 20-80, you fall short of at least one of those goals.

If everyone who's got room for improvement made those improvements and met all of the benchmarks, they would live 1.3 years longer, on average, cutting heart attacks by 63% and stroke by 31% over the next 30 years, the researchers estimate.

But let's say everyone makes some progress but doesn't quite meet all of the goals. That would still make a real dent in cardiovascular disease, the No. 1 killer of U.S. men and women, according to the study.

The study, published in the advance online edition of Circulation, is based on national health studies conducted from 1998 to 2004.

Are medications the answer? If everyone relied on prescription drugs, it could be a hefty tab. But lifestyle changes -- such as a healthier diet and a more active lifestyle -- are a big part of heart health. The researchers didn't crunch the numbers to see how many people could meet most of the goals through lifestyle change alone.

Today on WebMD

x-ray of human heart
A visual guide.
atrial fibrillation
Symptoms and causes.
 
heart rate graph
10 things to never do.
Compressed heart
Article
 
empty football helmet
Article
red wine
Video
 
eating blueberries
Article
Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
Slideshow
 
Inside A Heart Attack
SLIDESHOW
Omega 3 Sources
SLIDESHOW
 
Salt Shockers
SLIDESHOW
lowering blood pressure
SLIDESHOW