Want to know a simple way to cut your heart disease risk? Simply add 10 minutes of physical activity to your day. That’s just one of several tips the Mayo Clinic recommends in a new report keyed to American Heart Month to help people take small steps to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease, the leading killer of men and women.
“When I tell people that almost 80 percent of heart disease is preventable, they are surprised,” says Mayo cardiologist Martha Grogan, M.D., medical editor of Mayo Clinic journal Healthy Heart for Life. “Better yet, there are daily things we all can do that can make a big difference in our effort to keep our hearts healthy.”
For example, Dr. Grogan encourages virtually everyone to move 10 extra minutes each day. Get up from your desk to go talk to a co-worker instead of sending an email or walk around the house while talking on the phone, she recommends, noting a sedentary lifestyle increases heart attack risk almost as much as smoking.
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“Moving even 10 minutes a day for someone who’s been sedentary may reduce the risk for heart disease by 50 percent,” Dr. Grogan says.
Other Mayo Clinic recommendations:
Get adequate sleep. Too manyAmericans cheat themselves of sleep and their hearts can pay the price, said Virend Somers, M.D., a Mayo Clinic cardiologist and sleep expert. Chronic sleep deprivation can increase the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes, and depression. “Sleep is a necessity, like food and water. It’s not a luxury,” he said.
If you smoke, quit now. Randal Thomas, M.D., a Mayo preventive cardiologist, noted a 53-year-old male smoker with high blood pressure has a 20 percent chance of having a heart attack over the next 10 years. If he stops smoking, his risk drops to 10 percent; if he takes high blood pressure medicine, it falls to 5 percent.
Adopt healthy habits. Eating right, getting regular exercise, and managing heart-disease risk factors — such as high cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar — are key to keeping cardiovascular disease at bay.
“There’s a saying that heart disease is what nature gives you for breaking its rules,” Dr. Thomas said. “But you have a second chance. Healthy lifestyle habits can help you reduce a majority of your risks for heart attack.”
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