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.