What’s the Best Thing I Can Do to Avoid Cardiovascular Disease?

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Q: What’s the best thing I can do to avoid cardiovascular disease?

A: Hands down, the most important preventable risk factor for cardiovascular disease is smoking.

Here is a striking illustration of that fact. We conducted a study on patients who did everything else right. They exercised, ate a healthy diet and maintained a lean body weight, but they smoked. We compared them to patients who did nothing else right: They didn’t exercise or eat well, and they were obese, but they avoided cigarettes. The people who did nothing else right but avoided smoking still had less cardiovascular disease than the smokers.

In my patients who smoke, avoiding smoking is the thing I focus on and emphasize the most because it is so important to prevent cardiovascular disease.

— Preventive cardiologist Haitham Ahmed, MD, MPH

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