Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Methodist DeBakey Cardiology Associates

Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle Changes

If you have been diagnosed with a heart condition, one of the first things your doctor will probably recommend is a series of healthy lifestyle changes, including:

» Stop smoking
» Start following a heart-healthy diet
» Get physically active
» Control your cholesterol
» Control your blood pressure
» Manage your diabetes

Stop Smoking

The American College of Cardiology estimates that smoking directly causes 400,000 deaths in the United States per year. Fortunately, quitting smoking can rapidly improve your chances of enjoying a longer, healthier life. If you smoke, this is the time to quit. If someone in your household smokes, you can encourage them to quit as well. And if you need some help quitting, talk to your doctor about the Methodist Smoking Cessation Program.

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Start Following a Heart-Healthy Diet

You can help your heart by following a diet that is rich in:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole-grain and high-fiber foods
  • Fish and other lean proteins
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy products

The American College of Cardiology has created an entire website devoted to heart-healthy cooking tips, grocery shopping lists, recipes and other nutritional resources; visit the CardioSmart Nutrition & Weight Management site to learn more.

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Get Physically Active

Research has shown that 30 minutes of moderate activity, 5 days a week, can lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Talk to your doctor about a physical activity routine that’s healthy for your current state of health and fitness, and visit CardioSmart Healthy Living to learn more.

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Control Your Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a waxy substance produced by the liver that can contribute to clogged and hardened arteries (atherosclerosis). Following are the American College of Cardiology’s recommendations for healthy cholesterol levels:

Total Cholesterol:

  • Less than 200 mg/dL: Desirable
  • 200-239 mg/dL: Borderline high
  • 240 mg/dL and above: High

LDL ("Bad") Cholesterol:

  • Less than 100 mg/dL: Optimal
  • 100–129 mg/dL: Near optimal/above optimal
  • 130–159 mg/dL: Borderline high
  • 160–189 mg/dL: High
  • 190 mg/dL and above: Very high

HDL ("Good") Cholesterol:

  • Less than 40 mg/dL: A major risk factor for heart disease
  • 40–59 mg/dL: The higher, the better
  • 60 mg/dL and above: Considered protective against heart disease


  • 150–199 mg/dL: Borderline high
  • 200 mg/dL or more: High

If a sensible activity program and a heart-healthy diet are not enough to get your numbers to a healthy level, your doctor may talk to you about medication.

To learn more, visit the CardioSmart High Cholesterol website and talk to your doctor.

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Control Your Blood Pressure

High blood pressure can weaken your arteries and lead to a number of serious heart problems, including heart attack, heart failure, aortic dissection and atherosclerosis. Keep your salt intake under control, limit your alcohol consumption and check your blood pressure regularly; your goal should be 120/80 or lower.

To learn more, visit the CardioSmart Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) Condition Center and talk to your doctor.

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Manage Your Diabetes

More diabetes-related deaths are caused by cardiovascular disease than any other condition. If you have diabetes, you’re four times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than a non-diabetic person. Talk to your doctor about steps you can take to manage your diabetes, and visit the CardioSmart Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease Condition Center to learn more.

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Learn about other heart treatments:

For more information about Methodist DeBakey Cardiology Associates or to make an appointment, please call us at 713-441-1100 or 888-361-4375, or contact us online.