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Doing This Can Slash Your Risk of Heart Disease, Says New Study

Here are the new findings.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., and one in three of those deaths are preventable, according to the CDC. "Heart disease is 90 percent treatable – everyone can prevent heart disease anywhere in the world, especially by eating foods that are low in salt and cholesterol, exercising regularly, and not smoking," said Leslie Cho, M.D., Section Head for Preventive Cardiology and Cardiac Rehabilitation at Cleveland Clinic. "Even if a person has a family history of heart disease, we can still prevent and treat heart disease thanks to incredible advances in medicine." Here are five things that lower your risk of heart disease—including one very surprising new study. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Prevention Should Start in Childhood

kids eating lunch

"We do not want to start children on cholesterol medication at that age, but rather to get them thinking about the importance of a healthy diet and regular exercise," says Dr. Cho. "We think of heart disease as an old person's problem but, really, prevention should start in childhood."


Don't Smoke

no smoking sign

Smoking is a leading cause of heart disease, experts say, with tobacco being responsible for 20% of deaths from coronary heart disease. "Given the current level of evidence on tobacco and cardiovascular health and the health benefits of quitting smoking, failing to offer cessation services to patients with heart disease could be considered clinical malpractice or negligence," says Dr Eduardo Bianco, Chair of the World Heart Federation Tobacco Expert Group. "Cardiology societies should train their members in smoking cessation, as well as to promote and even drive tobacco control advocacy efforts."


Be Mindful of Alcohol Intake

refuse alcohol

"Heavy drinking is linked to a number of poor health outcomes, including heart conditions," says Johns Hopkins Medicine. "Excessive alcohol intake can lead to high blood pressure, heart failure or stroke. Excessive drinking can also contribute to cardiomyopathy, a disorder that affects the heart muscle. What's more, alcohol can contribute to obesity and the long list of health problems that can go along with it. Alcohol is a source of excess calories and a cause of weight gain that can be harmful in the long term."


Sitting Is the New Smoking

Woman sitting on bed looking at phone bored and in a bad mood

Sitting all day can significantly raise your risk of heart disease, multiple studies show. "The key to a healthier heart in middle age is the right dose of exercise, at the right time in life," says Benjamin D. Levine, M.D., founder and director of the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine. "We found what we believe to be the optimal dose of the right kind of exercise, which is four to five times a week, and the 'sweet spot' in time, when the heart risk from a lifetime of sedentary behavior can be improved — which is late-middle age. The result was a reversal of decades of a sedentary lifestyle on the heart for most of the study participants," he said.


Less Than One Hour of TV Slashes Heart Disease Risk

Obese woman laying on sofa with smartphone eating chips

Previous research has shown watching TV is strongly linked to heart disease, and now a new study shows that reducing TV time to less than an hour a day could help prevent more than one in ten cases of coronary heart disease. "Our study provides unique insights into the potential role that limiting TV viewing might have in preventing coronary heart disease," says Dr. Youngwon Kim, assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong, and visiting researcher at the MRC Epidemiology Unit. "Individuals who watch TV for less than one hour a day were less likely to develop the condition, independent of their genetic risk. Limiting the amount of time sat watching TV could be a useful, and relatively light touch, lifestyle change that could help individuals with a high genetic predisposition to coronary heart disease in particular to manage their risk."

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan