The "big five" risk factors—smoking, family history, elevated cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure—all raise your risk for heart attacks, says Marla Mendelson, M.D., a professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. To reduce your risk, she suggests you:

 

  • LEARN YOUR FAMILY HISTORY
    If someone in your family had cardiovascular disease before age 55, your risk goes up.

     

  • DON'T SMOKE
    Did we really have to tell you this?

     

  • KNOW YOUR NUMBERS
    Do your own cholesterol and blood pressure math. Optimal total cholesterol: less than 200 mg/dL, while BP should be no higher than 120/80.

     

  • EXERCISE REGULARLY
    Get at least five hours of cardio every week.

     

  • EAT WELL
    Keep fast food to a minimum and stick to a diet high in lean protein, vegetables, fruit, and whole grains.

     

  • KEEP YOUR COOL
    Stress doesn't hurt as much as the things you do when you're stressed—eat too much, drink too much, and don't exercise. Find healthy ways to handle it.