General prevention guidelines for individuals are provided below

Smoking: Cigarette smoking is the single most important preventable cause of death in individuals. An individual who smoke have a risk of heart attack and stroke two to four times higher than that of non-smokers. The good news is that if you quit, risk comes down dramatically. If you don't smoke, don't start. Secondhand smoke in your home or at work also increases your risk as well as the risk for your children.

High Blood Presure: High blood pressure puts a strain on your heart that over time can weaken its function. High blood pressure causes heart disease, stroke, and can also lead to kidney failure. If you have high blood pressure, your physician will recommend diet, exercise, and where needed, blood pressure lowering medication. You should have your blood pressure checked every two years.

High Cholesterol: Individuals with high levels of total cholesterol are at increased risk for heart disease, as are individuals with low levels of HDL or "good" cholesterol. If you have high cholesterol levels, your physician will recommend diet, exercise, and where needed, cholesterol lowering medication. You should have your cholesterol checked every 2 to 3 years.

High hsCRP: Individuals with increased levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) can have increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular death, even if cholesterol levels are in the normal range. Increased levels of hsCRP also increse your risk of developing high blood pressure and diabetes. If you have increased levels of hsCRP, diet, exercise, and smoking cessation are the most important interventions to consider.

Why are exercise and diet so important? Regular physical activity and maintatining proper weight are essential to reducing your risk of heart disease and improving your quality of life. Studies have repeatedly shown that exercise improves heart-health, both by lowering "bad" cholesterol, hsCRP, and blood pressure, as well as increasing "good" cholesterol. Both regular exercise and weight reduction also lower your risk of developing diabetes. Exercise also fights the aging process and helps to reduce injuries. If you are currently inactive, talk with your physician about starting an exercise program.

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