Lifestyle Changes for Heart and Vascular Disease

You can make lifestyle modifications that lower your risk factors for heart and vascular disease, prolonging and improving your quality of life. The key is to know your risk factors and to modify them. Talk with your care team to find ways to lower your risk.

  • Get proper nutrition: Limit your intake of fat, cholesterol and sodium.
  • Exercise regularly: Talk with your care team about starting an exercise program or joining a formal cardiac rehabilitation program. After a hospital stay, slowly increase your activities each day.
  • Manage obesity: If you are overweight, talk with your care team about a weight-loss program, including diet, exercise and counseling.
  • Minimize or eliminate tobacco and alcohol: Stop smoking and drink alcohol sparingly, if at all.
  • Control diabetes: If you have diabetes, you are at least twice as likely to have cardiovascular disease or a stroke.
  • Treat sleep apnea: Obstructive sleep apnea increases your risk of hypertension (high blood pressure).
  • Stay current on vaccinations: Talk to your care team about influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations.

Special lifestyle modifications

  • Heart failure: If you have heart failure, weigh yourself every morning. Rapid weight gain is a heart failure warning sign.
  • Arrhythmia: Stress, caffeine and alcohol can promote arrhythmia, so your care team may recommend lifestyle changes to help you reduce your stress levels. Your treatment plan may also include efforts to minimize or eliminate caffeinated beverages, tobacco and alcohol.