Preventing Heart Disease
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both women and men in the United States with nearly 600,000 Americans dying of cardiovascular diseases each year.
The American Heart Association recommends that heart attack prevention begin by age 20. This means assessing your risk factors and working to keep them low. For those over 40, or with multiple risk factors, it is important to determine the risk of developing cardiovascular disease in the next 10 years. Many first-time heart attacks or strokes are fatal or disabling, so prevention is critical.
Knowing your potential risk will help you and your healthcare provider take control of your health and develop a plan to prevent the onset of cardiovascular disease.
Want to be a heart healthier you? Take advantage of our health assessment tools, classes, free screenings and more.
If you smoke, quit. If someone in your household smokes, encourage them to quit. While quitting is hard, it is much more difficult to recover from a heart attack or stroke or to live with chronic heart disease. Mercy Health System offers a number of Smoking Cessation classes and support groups to help you on your journey to quit.
Choose good nutrition
The foods you eat, and the amount, can affect other major controllable risk factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and whether you are overweight or obese. A healthy diet is one of the best weapons you have to fight heart disease. Mercy Health System offers both Nutritional Counseling and Medical Nutrition Therapy programs to help you learn healthy eating habits.
Reduce blood cholesterol
Reducing your intake of saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol, and increasing your activity level, can help reduce your risk of heart disease. If diet and exercise are not working alone, consult your healthcare provider as medication may be needed.
Lower high blood pressure
High blood pressure is the single-largest risk for stroke, which is the number three killer in the United States and one of the country’s leading causes of disability. So, shake the salt habit, take your medications and increase your activity. Mercy Health System offers free blood pressure screenings.
Increase physical activity
Research has shown that getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity on five or more days a week can help lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and maintain a healthy weight.
Maintain a healthy weight
Good nutrition, controlling both calorie intake and portion size, is one of the most successful ways to maintain a healthy weight. Mercy Health System offers a variety of weight management and bariatrics or weight loss surgery programs.
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, it is important to work with your healthcare provider to keep the disease in check. People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. Our diabetes classes and support groups are available to provide you with the information you need to manage your disease and stay healthy.
While stress is not considered to be a major risk factor for heart disease, it has been found to affect other factors. Stress may increase overeating and smoking. Research also has shown that stress in young adults may predict middle-aged blood pressure risks.
Excessive drinking may raise blood pressure and lead to heart failure or stroke. It can contribute to high triglycerides, produce irregular heartbeats and affect cancer and other diseases.
Find a doctor
If you don't have a primary care physician, we can provide one to help you manage your care. We also have many cardiologists that can assist you with your heart health goals. Call 1.877.GO MERCY to find one or visit our find a doctor tool.