Photos: The seven guidelines for heart health
Image 3 of 9
Stop smoking( Reuben Munoz / Los Angeles Times )
Dont do it. This is at the top of the list because the AHA calls smoking the most important preventable cause of premature death in the United States. It increases the risk of coronary heart disease, in which the vessels that carry blood and oxygen to the heart are narrowed due to a buildup of plaque. Smoking also decreases levels of HDL, the so-called good cholesterol, and makes the blood more likely to form dangerous clots, among other problems.
To meet the AHA criteria, you should be a nonsmoker or have quit for at least one year.
Quitting makes economic sense
Dealing with urges to smoke (AHA)
How to avoid weight gain when you quit (AHA)
Calculator: Cost of smoking (AHA)