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How Can Heart Failure Be Prevented?

ou can take steps to prevent heart failure. The sooner you start, the better your chances of preventing or delaying the condition.

For People Who Have Healthy Hearts

If you have a healthy heart, you can take action to prevent heart disease and heart failure. To reduce your risk of heart disease:

  • Follow a healthy diet. A healthy diet includes a variety of vegetables and fruits. It also includes whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, and protein foods. A healthy diet is low in sodium (salt), added sugars, solid fats, and refined grains.
  • If you smoke, make an effort to quit. Talk with your doctor about programs and products that can help you quit smoking. Also, try to avoid secondhand smoke.
  • If you're overweight or obese, try to lose weight. Work with your health care team to create a reasonable weight-loss plan.
  • Be physically active. People gain health benefits from as little as 60 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. The more active you are, the more you will benefit.
  • Avoid using illegal drugs.

For People Who Are at High Risk for Heart Failure

Even if you're at high risk for heart failure, you can take steps to reduce your risk. People at high risk include those who have coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes.

  • Follow all of the steps listed above. Talk with your doctor about what types and amounts of physical activity are safe for you.
  • Treat and control any conditions that can cause heart failure. Take medicines as your doctor prescribes.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol.
  • See your doctor for ongoing care.

For People Who Have Heart Damage but No Signs of Heart Failure

If you have heart damage but no signs of heart failure, you can still reduce your risk of developing the condition. In addition to the steps above, take your medicines as prescribed to reduce your heart's workload.

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March 27, 2014