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General Medical Questions
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Question : I'm 50 years old and worry about heart disease. My dad and four of his brothers had bypass surgery. I exercise four days a week, take Lipitor daily and have my cholesterol checked every six months.
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Howard LeWine, M.D., is chief editor of Internet Publishing, Harvard Health Publications. He is a clinical instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. LeWine has been a primary care internist and teacher of internal medicine since 1978.

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July 27, 2011
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A:

You describe a healthy routine. You have already modified your genetic risk of atherosclerosis. And you understand the importance of a healthy diet.

To lower your heart disease risk even more:

  • Maintain a body-mass index (BMI) of less than 25. This can help keep your blood sugar, insulin levels and blood pressure down, even if these are already in the normal range.
  • Exercise every day. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise at least 5 days per week. Also, do strength training 2 to 3 times per week.
  • Enjoy your few drinks. A little alcohol is good -- an average of a couple of drinks per day for men and one per day for women.
  • Ideally, stop smoking cigars. But there is no evidence that an occasional cigar adversely affects your health unless you already have coronary heart disease.
  • Keep taking the Lipitor. Consider a higher dose if your LDL is greater than 100 mg/dL. An LDL cholesterol level of 70 mg/dL would be ideal.
  • Talk with your doctor about taking a daily baby aspirin to decrease heart-attack risk.

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