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Preventing Cardiovascular Disease

As the leading killer of American men and women, cardiovascular disease claims a life every 36 seconds. However, unlike many health conditions, cardiovascular disease is preventable. There are steps you can take to improve your health and reduce your risk of developing this disease.

The first step you should take is to educate yourself about the proven healthy habits for reducing your heart disease risk. Then, schedule an appointment with your SSM Health provider to create a plan for improving your heart health.

Stop Smoking

Smoking doubles your risk of heart attack and increases your risk of sudden cardiac death. In fact, post-heart attack survival rates are greatly reduced among smokers. An estimated 390,000 Americans die each year as a direct result of smoking, the majority from heart attack and heart disease.

Lower Your Blood Pressure

The higher your blood pressure, the higher your risk for stroke, heart attack or congestive heart failure. In most cases, high blood pressure can be managed with medication.

Lower Your Cholesterol

High cholesterol can usually be controlled through diet and exercise. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as "bad" cholesterol, is the main source of cholesterol buildup in the arteries. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is often called "good" cholesterol because it helps prevent the buildup of cholesterol in arteries. Your doctor is a great resource for determining what your cholesterol levels should be.

Watch Your Triglycerides

Triglycerides are a form of fat in the blood that can increase the risk for developing heart disease. Levels between 150-199 mg/dL are borderline and levels 200 mg/dL or above are considered high.

Exercise Regularly

A regular exercise program contributes to heart wellness and weight reduction, if necessary. Swimming, cycling, jogging, skiing, aerobic dancing, walking, and other activities can help your heart. Whether it's included in a structured exercise program or just part of your daily routine, regular physical activity adds up to a healthier heart.

Modify Your Diet

Cardiologists recommend reducing dietary fats and cholesterol. You should follow a healthy eating plan with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods. SSM Health has a dedicated team of registered dieticians who can assist you with your nutrition needs. Ask your physician for a referral.

Lose Weight

Excess body weight is a major risk factor for heart disease. Being overweight puts unnecessary strain on your heart and can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. SSM Health Weight Management Services offers comprehensive programs to help you reach your weight loss goals.

Now that you understand some of the heart-healthy habits you can incorporate into your daily routine, it’s time to put your good intentions to work. Get started today by scheduling an appointment with your SSM Health primary care provider. Together, we’ll create a safe, personalized plan to keep your heart healthy through the years.

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