Accessible Search Form           Advanced Search

More Information

Download More Information pdf document (467k, 2 pages) handout.

Heart Disease Risk Factors You Can Do Something About
Risk Factors Facts You Need To Know Take These Steps To Prevent Heart Disease
High blood pressure
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is called the silent killer. It often has no symptoms, yet it can cause very serious illness.
You do not have high blood pressure yet, but are likely to develop it in the future unless you adopt healthy lifestyle changes

When your blood pressure is high, your heart works harder than it should to move blood to all parts of the body. If not treated, high blood pressure can lead to stroke (brain attack), heart attack, eye and kidney problems, and death.

Check your blood pressure numbers (mmHg*)
Level Systolic Diastolic
Normal Less than 120 Less than 80
Prehypertension 120-139 80-89
High Blood Pressure 140 or higher 90 or higher

* Millimeters of mercury

  • Check your blood pressure once a year. Check it more often if you have high blood pressure.
  • Aim for a healthy weight.
  • Be physically active.
  • Choose and prepare foods with less salt and sodium.
  • Eat more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat milk products.
  • If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
  • If your doctor gives you blood pressure medicine, take it the way the doctor tells you.
High blood cholesterol
Cholesterol in your arteries is like rust in a pipe.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is known as the “bad” cholesterol. Too much LDL cholesterol can clog your arteries, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is known as the “good” cholesterol. HDL carries cholesterol away from your arteries.
Check your total cholesterol number (mg/dL*)
Desirable Less than 200
Borderline High 200-239
High 240 or higher
Check your LDL cholesterol number† (mg/dL*)
Desirable Less than 100
Near Desirable/Above Desirable 100-129
Borderline High 130-159
High 160 or higher

* Milligrams per deciliter

† The goal for LDL cholesterol is different for everyone. Your doctor can help you set your LDL goal.

Check your HDL cholesterol number (mg/dL):
HDL levels of 60 mg/dL or higher help lower your risk for heart disease. HDL levels below 40 mg/dL are a major risk factor for heart disease.

Check your triglyceride level (mg/dL):
A normal triglyceride level is below 150.

  • Get a blood test called a lipid profile at your doctor's office. This test measures all your cholesterol levels (total, LDL, and HDL) and triglycerides.
  • Get your blood cholesterol levels checked every 5 years if you are age 20 or older.
  • Learn what your cholesterol numbers mean. If they are high, ask your doctor how you can lower them.
  • Choose foods that are lower in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol.
  • Aim for a healthy weight.
  • Be physically active.

Take these other steps to control triglycerides:

  • Limit candy, sweets, regular soda, juice, and other beverages high in added sugar.
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol. Smoking raises triglycerides and lowers HDL cholesterol. Excess alcohol also raises triglycerides.
Overweight occurs when extra fat is stored in your body. It increases your risk of developing high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Check your body mass index (BMI) and waist measure:
Level BMI
Underweight <18.5
Normal 18.5-24.9
Overweight 25-29.9
Obese 30 or greater
  • A waist measurement of more than 35 inches for a woman and more than 40 inches for a man increases the risk of heart disease.
  • Other reports indicate that the BMI cutoffs for overweight (>23.0 kg/m2) and obesity (>25.0 kg/m2) in the Asian-Pacific region are lower than these current standards (Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults).
  • Get your BMI and waist measured every 2 years, or more often if your doctor recommends it.
  • Aim for a healthy weight. Try not to gain extra weight.
  • If you are overweight, try to lose weight slowly. Lose 1 to 2 pounds a week.
  • Eat smaller portions and be physically active for at least 60 minutes daily.
When the sugar in the blood is high, your body cannot use the food you eat for energy.
Prediabetes is when blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. People with prediabetes are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes is serious. You may not know you have it. It can lead to heart attack, stroke, blindness, amputations, and kidney disease.
  • Being overweight is a major risk factor for diabetes.
  • Filipino Americans are at a higher risk for type 2 diabetes than the non-Hispanic Caucasian population.
  • Find out if you have diabetes.
  • Get your blood glucose (blood sugar) level checked at least every 3 years, beginning at the age of 45. You should be tested at a younger age and more often if you are at risk for diabetes.
Not being physically active
Being inactive can double your chances of heart disease and take away years from your life.
  • Adults should do at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days, preferably daily.
  • Some adults need up to 60 minutes of moderate (medium-level) to vigorous (high-level) activity on most days to prevent unhealthy weight gain.
  • Adults who used to be overweight need 60 to 90 minutes of moderate physical activity every day to avoid regaining weight.
  • Children and adolescents need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on most days.
  • Stay active. You can build up to 60 minutes of exercise each day by being active for 20 minutes three times a day.
  • Try walking, dancing, or playing soccer.
You put your health and your family's health at risk when you smoke.
  • Cigarette smoking is addictive. It harms your heart and lungs. It can raise your blood pressure and blood cholesterol.
  • Stop smoking now, or cut back gradually.
  • If you can't quit the first time, keep trying.
  • If you don't smoke, don't start.

Read the “More Information“ handout in Tagalog.

Back to Session 1

Information on this page is taken from the English print version of “Healthy Heart, Healthy Family: A Community Health Worker's Manual.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, NIH Publication No. 08-3674, Originally Printed 1999, Revised May 2008.

Last Updated March 2012

Twitter iconTwitterimage of external icon Facebook iconFacebookimage of external icon YouTube iconYouTubeimage of external icon Google+ iconGoogle+image of external icon