What you can do on your own:  

_____ Don't use tobacco.  It's the No. 1 preventable cause of serious illness such as heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and emphysema
_____
Be physically active.  It can build endurance, control blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels, aid in weight control and reduce your risk of developing diabetes.
_____ Eat healthy foods.  Foods high in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol contribute to atherosclerosis, a primary cause of heart attack and stroke.  Consuming too much salt (sodium) can cause high blood pressure in some people
_____ Watch your weight.  Obesity is a major risk factor.
_____ Avoid excessive alcohol.  One or two drinks a day may help increase "good" HDL Cholesterol, but heavy drinking can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
 
 

What you can do with your doctor's help:

_____ Have regular checkups.  A doctor can pinpoint major risk factors such as smoking, elevated cholesterol or blood pressure, excess weight and diabetes.
_____ Control your cholesterol.  A simple blood test can show your blood cholesterol level.  If  it's too high, dietary changes, exercise, weight loss, and/or drug therapy can bring it down to a safer level.
_____ Keep tabs on your blood pressure.  Even if it's less than 120/80 mm Hg, have it checked at least every two years.  If it's 120/80 or above, have it checked more often, according to your doctor's recommendations.
_____ Keep diabetes in check.  Your doctor can detect diabetes or a pre-diabetic condition and prescribe a program to minimize the risk.