High cholesterol, high blood pressure and being overweight or obese are major risk factors for heart disease and stroke. You should be tested regularly to know if you have high cholesterol or high blood pressure. That’s because elevated cholesterol and blood pressure have no warning signs. You should also talk to your doctor about a healthy weight for you.
It is important to know your numbers. You can record your blood pressure, cholesterol and weight in the table below to track your progress. Work with your healthcare provider to determine your risk and manage it. Then ask how often to check your levels.
Have your cholesterol levels checked every five years, or more often if needed. A fasting lipoprotein profile is the best measurement.
|Blood Pressure (mm Hg)|
|Total Cholesterol (mg/dL)|
What can I do to lower my cholesterol and blood pressure?
- Eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet low in added sugars, sodium, and saturated and trans fats. A healthy diet includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, nontropical vegetable oils and nuts. You can adapt this diet to your calorie needs and personal food preferences.
- Eat oily fish, such as salmon, twice per week.
- Limit red meats. If you choose to eat red meats, select lean cuts of meat. Trim all visible fat and throw away the fat that cooks out of the meat.
- Remove the skin from poultry.
- Substitute meatless or “low-meat” main dishes for regular entrees.
- Aim for a diet that achieves 5% to 6% of calories from saturated fats and a reduced percent of calories from trans fat.
- Reduce your sodium to 1500mg per day or less. Limit your intake of processed, packaged and fast foods which tend to be high in sodium.
- Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. If you’re a woman, don’t have more than one drink a day. If you’re a man, have no more than two drinks a day.
- Aim for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking.
- Reach and maintain a healthy weight.
- Don't smoke and avoid exposure to second-hand smoke.
- Take your medicines the way your doctor tells you.
How can I manage my weight?
If you are overweight or obese, your healthcare provider may advise you that you are at greater risk of heart disease, stroke and other diseases. Lifestyle changes such as the ones listed above may help you lose 3-5% of your body weight. This could result in meaningful health benefits. Larger weight losses (5-10%) can produce even greater benefits.
- Reduce the number of calories you eat. Excess calories add excess weight.
- Get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity a week. To lose weight, some people need to do 300 or more minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.
- To maintain weight lost or minimize regain, some people need to do more physical activity each week (200-300 minutes).
- Call 1-800-AHA-USA1 (1-800-242-8721), or visit heart.org to learn more about heart disease and stroke.
- Sign up to get Heart Insight, a free magazine for heart patients and their families, at heartinsight.org.
- Connect with others sharing similar journeys with heart disease and stroke by joining our Support Network at heart.org/supportnetwork.
Do you have questions or comments for the doctor or nurse?
Take a few minutes to write your questions for the next time you see your healthcare provider.
What kind of physical activity would be good for me?
How can I know what my weight should be?
©2015, American Heart Association