Heart Failure

Lowering Your Risk

Preventing Heart Failure

There are a number of things you can do to reduce the risk for coronary artery disease and heart failure. These things include

Keep Your Cholesterol Levels Healthy

Keeping your cholesterol levels healthy can help prevent coronary artery disease.

Your goal for LDL, or "bad," cholesterol, depends on how many other risk factors you have. Risk factors include

Recommended LDL Cholesterol Goals

Keep Blood Pressure at a Normal Level

High blood pressure causes the heart to get larger and work harder, which can then lead to heart failure. You should aim for a blood pressure level of 130/80 or below. Talk to your doctor about ways to lower your blood pressure.

Manage Diabetes

If you have diabetes, it’s important to manage it properly. Diabetes is characterized by having too much glucose, or sugar, in the blood for a long time. This can cause heart problems because high blood glucose can damage parts of the body such as the heart and blood vessels. This damage weakens the heart, often leading to heart failure.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Excess weight puts strain on the heart. Being overweight also increases your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. These diseases can lead to heart failure.

Don't Smoke

If you smoke, quit. For free help quitting, visit Smokefree.gov

Follow a Heart Healthy Diet

Heart-healthy foods include those high in fiber, such as oat bran, oatmeal, whole-grain breads and cereals, fruits, and vegetables. You can also maintain a heart-healthy diet by limiting foods that are high in saturated fat, trans-fat, and cholesterol, such as meats, butter, dairy products with fat, eggs, shortening, lard, and foods with palm oil or coconut oil.

Limit the Amount of Alcohol You Drink

In general, healthy men and women over age 65 should not drink more than three drinks a day or a total of seven drinks a week.

Limit the Amount of Sodium

Sodium contributes to high blood pressure and fluid retention. Older adults should limit their intake of sodium to1,500 milligrams daily (about 2/3 tsp. of salt).

Get Regular Exericse

Studies show that people with heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure benefit from regular exercise. In fact, inactive people are nearly twice as likely to develop heart disease as those who are more active. Aim for at least 30 minutes a day of exercise. Check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

For information on exercise and older adults, see Benefits of Exercise or visit Go4Life®, the exercise and physical activity campaign for older adults from the National Institute on Aging.