Get active. Get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day like brisk walking, five times a week. "Make a commitment that you are going to be more active today than you were yesterday," says cardiologist Gordon Tomaselli, past president of the heart association.
Eat better. Avoid excess salt which leads to hypertension, and saturated fats which leads to high cholesterol, Tomaselli says. Also, limit sugar intake. Instead eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, poultry, low-fat or non-fat dairy and other healthy fare.
Manage your blood pressure. Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80. If it's within healthy ranges, you reduce the strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys, the heart association says.
Control cholesterol. "Your total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol should be low, and your HDL (good) cholesterol should be as high as possible," Tomaselli says. If your total cholesterol is 200 or higher, you need to take action. High cholesterol can cause blocked arteries, and like a multi-car pile-up, one problem often creates another.
Don't smoke. "Tobacco at any level of intake is bad for your health and should be avoided," Tomaselli says.
Lose weight. Being obese -- roughly 30 or more pounds over a healthy weight -- increases the risk of heart disease.
Source: American Heart Association (mylifecheck.heart.org)