Whole Heart

How to Slash Your Heart Disease Risk by 83%

Stress as a key factor
Other ways you can lower your risk for heart disease include keeping blood pressure at 120/80 or below and minimizing stress. "I think we greatly underappreciate the interplay between stress, our emotions, and our risk for heart disease," says Laurence S. Sperling, MD, director of preventive cardiology at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. He says stress constricts the arteries and increases the stickiness of blood platelets, setting the stage for a blood clot. Watch a video of Dr. Sperling explaining why he thinks stress is an even more significant risk factor than the current research suggests.

"Many lives could be saved and much misery could be avoided if people and doctors alike got more aggressive about heart disease prevention," says Nieca Goldberg, MD, medical director of the NYU Women's Heart Program.

"Ninety percent of women who die suddenly of heart disease had at least one risk factor that could have been prevented or treated," she says.

"People don't think it's a problem until you reach a certain age," says Jeffrey Frame, PhD, a professor of dietetics at Murray State University. But studies show that even children and teens can have streaks of plaque in their arteries, especially if they smoke or eat a lot of fatty foods.
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