heart facts and resources
Cardiovascular disease is the #1 killer of Americans. Some risk factors for heart disease, like family history, cannot be controlled. But there are plenty of other ways to reduce your risk of heart disease, including getting more exercise, quitting smoking or adjusting your diet. You have the power to make a positive change in your health!
know your heart
Schedule an appointment with a primary care physician to understand what puts you at risk for developing heart disease and how to reduce that risk. Your physician can explain lab results, the impact of genetic factors, and partner with you to chart a course for heart health.
Use our Health Encyclopedia to learn more about a variety of topics related to heart health and heart disease. You can also listen to our Experts in Heart Care talk at length about various heart topics in our free podcasts.Let Dr. Oz answer some of your heart health questions as he takes you on a tour of the latest technologies in cardiac care featured at St. Francis:
choose a heart smart diet
What you eat greatly affects your heart health. Eating fat and cholesterol-filled foods can cause cholesterol deposits to build up in your blood vessels. These fatty buildups can block blood flow and eventually cause heart disease and heart attacks.
To help your heart, eat a heart-healthy diet of vegetables, fruits and whole grains and cut down on the amount of saturated fats, oils, salt and cholesterol that you eat. Each persons ideal diet can differ depending on their individual health concerns, so its a good idea to talk to your doctor or a schedule an appointment with a Registered Dietitian before starting a new diet.
focus on physical activity
Being physically inactive is as risky as having high blood cholesterol levels, high blood pressure or smoking. Health experts recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week to reduce the risk of chronic disease, such as heart disease. The easiest way to get more exercise is by simply walking. You dont need much equipment other than a good pair of shoes, and its free! Aim for a long walk on most days and you will literally be taking steps to a healthier heart.
According to the American Heart Association, cigarette smoking accounts for more than 440,000 of the more than 2.4 million annual deaths. Smokers also have a higher risk of developing fatty buildups in arteries, several types of cancer and lung problems. Many studies detail the evidence that cigarette smoking is a major cause of coronary heart disease, which leads to heart attack. If you smoke, make a commitment to quit. It is one of the best things you will ever do for your health and your heart.
lose excess weight
Its no secret that many Americans are overweight. Lack of exercise combined with a less-than-nutritious diet can lead to excess pounds that put a strain on joints, the lungs, and the heart. Like all muscles, the heart needs exercise to stay in top form. When it rarely gets a workout, it can weaken. When a weakened heart has to contend with high-fat, cholesterol-filled foods, it can lead to serious health complications.
Losing excess weight is one of the best things you can do to improve your overall health as well as your heart health. The first is to determine your goal weight. Check your body mass index (BMI) and find out the healthy weight range for your height. Next, consult your physician to develop a weight-loss plan thats right for you.
- Schedule a Nutritional Counseling session
- Check out tips for staying healthy at work
- Learn more about our Surgical Weight Loss Program
lower your stress
For most, stress and anxiety are unavoidable. Finding a healthy way to deal with stress not only puts your mind at ease, it can also help keep your heart healthy. Prolonged stress can strain your heart and lead to dangerous consequences. When you lower your stress level, you actually can increase the amount of energy you have. There are several ways you can learn to manage stress, including a yoga class and breathing techniques. Do a little research and find a stress management system that works for you.
recognize signs of a heart attack
Often, people who are experiencing a heart attack aren't sure what's wrong and wait too long before getting help. Learn the symptoms that can mean a heart attack is happening. Even if you're not sure, have it checked out. Fast action can save lives calling 9-1-1 is almost always the fastest way to get lifesaving treatment. It is also important to understand heart attack first aid, including Heartsaver CPR.
EMS can begin treatment when they arrive, which is up to an hour sooner than if someone gets to the hospital by car. The staff are also trained to revive someone whose heart has stopped. Patients with chest pain who arrive by ambulance usually receive faster treatment at the hospital, too. If you can't access the emergency medical services (EMS), have someone drive you to St. Francis right away. Do not drive yourself unless you have absolutely no other option.