Atherosclerosis -- hardening and narrowing of the arteries -- gets a lot of bad press but with good reason. This progressive process silently and slowly blocks arteries, putting blood flow at risk.
Atherosclerosis is the usual cause of heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral vascular disease -- what together are called "cardiovascular disease." Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer in America, with more than 800,000 deaths in 2005.
How does atherosclerosis develop? Who gets it, and...
2.Work on your weight. Many Americans are overweight. Bringing your weight to a healthy level is a plus for your heart.
3. Upgrade your next meal. Favor fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. Pass on foods that are salty, high in unhealthy fats, or fried. Repeat for the meal after that, and so on, until it's routine.
4. Make an exercise menu. For your heart's sake, you should make it a habit to be active, so pick a couple of activities that sound like fun. That way, you always have some choices about what to do when you exercise at least three to four times a week for 30 minutes at a time. It burns calories and helps keep extra pounds off.
5. Rethink your drink. Limit alcohol. Moderate drinking may be OK, but more than that is bad for you. What's moderate drinking? Up to 1 glass a day for women, and up to 2 glasses a day for men.
And, finally, don't forget to consult your doctor. Your doctor can help you focus on developing healthy habits like the ones above. Your doctor can also help you figure out if your family's medical history puts you at risk and know if there's anything else you should be doing.