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Heart Health Center

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Atherosclerosis: Prevention Through the Ages

No matter your age, try these steps to prevent hardening of the arteries.

Preventing Atherosclerosis: In Your 40s and 50s continued...

Exercise: If you've been sedentary most of your life, you don't need to run marathons to get a benefit. Any activity is better than none.

  • Start slow and work up to 30 minutes of walking daily.
  • Take the stairs. Walk up one flight, or down two.
  • At the grocery store, park the car at the far end of the lot and walk.
  • Take an extra lap around the mall before heading home.

Diet: Ask each member of your family to choose a favorite (or least-hated) vegetable. Rotate through everyone's favorite at dinnertime. Toss in a salad, and you're well on your way to reducing your atherosclerosis risk.

Cut back on the red meat, as well. Keep meat portions small (the size of a deck of cards). Lean, skinless poultry is a great choice.

Don't use the excuse, "at my age, changing my lifestyle won't make any difference." In fact, adopting a healthy lifestyle in middle age reduces the risk of death from atherosclerosis by two-thirds

Preventing Atherosclerosis: In Your 60s and Up

The near- and post-retirement years should be a time to enjoy oneself. But it's also a time to think about health risks. The No. 1 threat by far, for both men and women, is atherosclerosis.

The rates of atherosclerosis complications skyrocket after age 65. For example, 85% of deaths from atherosclerosis occur in this age group. But you can reduce this risk dramatically by making changes to your routine.

Risk factors: A large number of people in this age group will need medicines to treat high blood pressure and cholesterol. These medicines make a profound difference, reducing the risk of atherosclerosis dramatically.

Despite the known benefits, studies show that many people stop taking cholesterol medicines after several months, increasing their risk unnecessarily. Don't be one of them. Discuss any concerns with your doctor, and stick with your treatment plan.

Exercise: Exercise has a stronger beneficial effect in older age than ever before. Find an exercise buddy, roust your spouse off the couch, or start a neighborhood walking club, but get moving!

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