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How To Prevent and Control Coronary Heart Disease Risk Factors

You can prevent and control many coronary heart disease (CHD) risk factors with heart-healthy lifestyle changes and medicines. Examples of risk factors you can control include high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, and overweight and obesity. Only a few risk factors—such as age, gender, and family history—can’t be controlled.

To reduce your risk of CHD and heart attack, try to control each risk factor you can. The good news is that many lifestyle changes help control several CHD risk factors at the same time. For example, physical activity may lower your blood pressure, help control diabetes and prediabetes, reduce stress, and help control your weight.

Heart-Healthy Lifestyle Changes

A heart-healthy lifestyle can lower the risk of CHD. If you already have CHD, a heart-healthy lifestyle may prevent it from getting worse. Heart-healthy lifestyle changes include:

Many lifestyle habits begin during childhood. Thus, parents and families should encourage their children to make heart-healthy choices, such as following a healthy diet and being physically active. Make following a healthy lifestyle a family goal. Making lifestyle changes can be hard. But if you make these changes as a family, it may be easier for everyone to prevent or control their CHD risk factors.

For tips on how to help your children adopt healthy habits, visit We Can!® Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity & Nutrition.


Sometimes lifestyle changes aren’t enough to control your blood cholesterol levels. For example, you may need statin medications to control or lower your cholesterol. By lowering your cholesterol level, you can decrease your chance of having a heart attack or stroke. Doctors usually prescribe statins for people who have:

  • Coronary heart disease, peripheral artery disease, or had a prior stroke
  • Diabetes
  • High LDL cholesterol levels

Doctors may discuss beginning statin treatment with those who have an elevated risk for developing heart disease or having a stroke

Your doctor also may prescribe other medications to:

  • Decrease your chance of having a heart attack or dying suddenly.
  • Lower your blood pressure.
  • Prevent blood clots, which can lead to heart attack or stroke.
  • Prevent or delay the need for a procedure or surgery, such as percutaneous coronary intervention or coronary artery bypass grafting.  
  • Reduce your heart’s workload and relieve CHD.

Take all medicines regularly, as your doctor prescribes. Don’t change the amount of your medicine or skip a dose unless your doctor tells you to. You should still follow a heart-healthy lifestyle, even if you take medicines to treat your CHD.

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Updated: June 22, 2016