Photos: The seven guidelines for heart health
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The new guidelines for heart health( Clockwise from top left: Damon Winter, Reuben Munoz, Jay L. Clendenin, Gary Friedman / all Los Angeles Times )
If you want to improve the health and fitness of your heart and blood vessels, you can. Basic lifestyle changes involving diet, exercise and smoking can make a big difference. It also helps to keep an eye on some key numbers, including blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass index and blood glucose.
Last year, the American Heart Assn. winnowed all this advice into a checklist called Life's Simple Seven. For each item on the list, the AHA set criteria that define ideal cardiovascular health. In a nationwide study of nearly 18,000 adults, those who adhered to at least five of the criteria had a 55% lower risk of death over five years than those who met none.
Here's a closer look at the new guidelines for heart health.
By Jill U. Adams / Special to the Los Angeles Times
Photo Gallery: Kelsey Ramos / Los Angeles Times