There are hopeful signs that Americans are increasingly embracing a  heart-healthy  lifestyle.  The percentage of smokers has plunged to approximately 15 % over the last decade.  Many people are eating better and doing  a better job of controlling high blood pressure and elevated cholestrol.

Despite these gains, cardiovascular disease still accounts for one out of every three deaths in the US.  Much of the blame goes to the obvious culprits that fuel heart disease..cigarette smoking, elevated blood cholestrol, high blood pressure,obesity, diabetes and a lack of exercise, to name a few.  Others may surprise you.

Research shows that our daily habits account for 40 % to  50% of all deaths caused by cardiovascular disease.  The good news is that even small lifestyle choices may offer big benefits.

Avoid second hand smoke:  Exposure to cigarette smoke, from smoking yourself, or from secondhand smoke increases arterial inflammation and impairs the ability of arteries to dilate and constrict normally.  It also makes blood more likely to coagulate, the major cause of heart attacks.

Know your family genes: If you have inherited gene variants known to increase the risk for heart disease, your risk of developing coronary disease  and having a cardiac event  is higher than you probably think. A study at Massachusetts General Hospital followed over 55,000 participants for 20 years  revealed that people with a genetic predisposition for heart disease had nearly double the risk of developing it themselves.. The same study found that people who made positive changes in two or three out of four  common areas known to negatively impact heart health …smoking,obesity, lack of regular exercise and an unhealthy diet ..were able to reduce their cardiovascular risks by nearly 50 %.

Get a flu shot:  The fever, dehydration, and pneumonia that often accompany the flu can be devastating for people who have cardiovascular disease. Studies show that those who got a flu vaccination were 36 % less likely to suffer cardiovascular events.

Don’t stop taking a beta-blocker drug abruptly:

Used for treating high blood pressure, irregular heart beats, rapid heart rates and many other conditions. If these drugs are suddenly stopped, the patient can have a dangerous upsurge in adrenaline activity, which can cause a faster heart rate, heavy sweating, spikes in blood pressure and an increased risk for heart attack and stroke. If you believe that you need to stop taking any prescribed medication, be sure to first check with your doctor. If side effects are a problem, you can probably switch to another drug or dose that’s easier to tolerate.

Lower your resting pulse:

In general, a slower resting heart rate means a longer life.. because a slower heart rate exerts less stress on blood vessel walls. Studies have shown that healthy men and women with lower resting heart rates (less than 60 beats per minute) have fewer cardiac events and a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than those with faster rates (greater than 80 beats per minute).
A study of heart patients taking beta-blockers found that each10 beat
reduction in resting heart rate reduced the risk for cardiac death by 30 %.
EX: if someone with a resting heart rate of 80 beats per minute is given a beta-blocker to slow the rate to 60 beats per minute, the risk for cardiac death will drop by 60%


A resting heart rate of 50 to 70 depending on your
cardiac history and typical physical activity. Regular exercise..quitting smoking…maintaining a healthy weight..and avoiding high doses of caffeine can slow the resting heart rate.

Also important:

Your recovery heart rate, the time it takes your pulse to approach its resting rate after exercise. The fitter you get, the more quickly your heart-beat will return to a resting rate.