1. Know your risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Be sure to watch out for things such as obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, physical inactivity, smoking and high blood pressure.
2. Reduce your risk. Stay heart healthy with the following guidelines.
- Stay at a healthy weight (Body Mass Index [BMI] under 25, waistline under 35 inches)
- Exercise for 30 minutes on most days of the week.
- Don't smoke.
- Eat a balanced diet, including fruits, vegetables, grain products, fat-free/low-fat dairy products, legumes, nuts, fish, poultry and lean meat).
- Keep your cholesterol level under 200 and an HDL level of at least 50.
- Control your blood pressure, preferably keeping it below 120/80.
- Be sure to visit your doctor for regular checkups.
- Discomfort in the center of the chest, lasting more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back. It may feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
- Pain or discomfort in other areas of the upper body, such as one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath, which usually accompanies the chest discomfort, although it can occur beforehand as well.
- Other signs, including a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.