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Simple steps to help reduce the risk for heart disease

Taking care of our hearts doesn't have to be complicated. TriStar Health offers simple steps toward heart health.

Abigail King
February 07, 2024

Caring for our hearts is an important part of our overall well-being. When our hearts are performing well, we’re able to show up for the ones we love and enjoy our favorite activities. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, but it’s preventable with a healthy diet and lifestyle changes. Let’s explore what a heart-healthy lifestyle could look like for you.

How healthy is your heart? Take our free online heart health assessment

Who is at risk for heart disease?

When it comes to understanding our potential for heart disease, there are some risk factors we can’t change, like age, sex and family history. Other risk factors can be managed, including:

  • High blood pressure or high blood cholesterol
  • Prediabetes or diabetes
  • Smoking tobacco products
  • Not getting enough exercise

Because these risk factors for heart disease are manageable, we can choose to make small, sustainable changes to our lifestyle to prevent heart disease and other serious, chronic conditions.

Choose a heart-healthy diet

Diet is one of the most important risk factors associated with heart disease. Our dietary choices, over time, gradually impact multiple aspects of our health. A heart-healthy diet can significantly decrease the likelihood of experiencing heart disease, heart attack and stroke. When it comes to what we eat, here are some heart-healthy choices:

  • Choose healthy proteins from plant sources, nuts, fish, seafood, low-fat or nonfat dairy, and lean, unprocessed meats and poultry
  • Reduce or eliminate added sources of fat, like fried foods and oils
  • Choose plant vegetable oils instead of tropical oils
  • Eat five servings of vegetables daily
  • Eat whole fruits
  • Limit sugary beverages, like juices and soda
  • Limit refined carbohydrates and processed foods
  • Limit full-fat dairy
  • Quit smoking
  • Moderate alcohol intake

As is the case with most things in life, balance is key. We don’t want to restrict ourselves in such a way that we miss out on meals with friends or skip dessert at a wedding (especially if we’re craving that cupcake). The goal with these everyday choices is not weight loss, but to positively influence our hearts for years to come.

Don’t forget to stay active

Regular exercise plays a crucial role in our overall cardiovascular health. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week.

Starting and maintaining a consistent exercise routine can be daunting if you’re out of practice, or even challenging if you’re juggling a hectic schedule. We encourage you to start small and find movement you actually enjoy. Incorporating reasonable additions — like a 10-minute walk on your lunch break — into your daily routine can help these changes last.

Check in on your heart

Keeping your heart health top-of-mind doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. We’ve pulled together some resources to help you take charge of your heart health.

Know your numbers

American Heart Association tells us that four key numbers can change our lives:

  1. Total cholesterol
  2. Blood pressure
  3. Blood sugar
  4. Body mass index (BMI)

You can manage your heart health by knowing your numbers and taking steps to reduce any controllable risk factors you may have. Talk to your doctor about the best heart-healthy strategies based on your risk factors and lifestyle.

Search for a provider to partner with you throughout your heart health journey at TriStar Health or call (615) 342-1919 for a free physician referral.

When it comes to caring for our hearts, every choice matters. That gives us the opportunity, every day, to do better by our hearts. Making small changes over time can have a large impact on the rest of our lives.

Learn more about TriStar Health’s cardiology services and network of heart care.

February 07, 2024