Heart and vascular disease prevention

Take an active, empowered role in your cardiovascular health. Community Hospital and Montage Health offer education and medical services that focus on preventing problems before they happen.

Risk factors for cardiovascular disease

Knowing your risk factors for heart and vascular diseases and lowering the ones you can control can help you live a healthier, longer life. Risk factors include:

  • Being 65 or older
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Drinking too much alcohol or smoking
  • Getting too little exercise
  • Having a family or personal history of cardiovascular diseases or heart attack
  • Having certain health conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), or high levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol or triglycerides

How to avoid heart and vascular disease

Protect the health of your heart and vascular system by living a healthy lifestyle.

Eating well

Your food choices affect your risk of cardiovascular diseases. Choose fresh or frozen:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Low-fat dairy options
  • Lean sources of protein, such as poultry and fish

Try to limit foods that are:

  • Deep-fried
  • High in salt, such as canned soup. Aim for less than 1,500 milligrams (mg) of sodium (salt) per day
  • High in fat and cholesterol, including butter and red meat
  • High in sugar, such as soda
  • Packaged, like pre-made cookies, crackers, and chips
  • Processed, such as deli meat

Talk to a nutrition expert to create a healthy eating plan you’ll enjoy.

Exercise and physical activity

Regular exercise strengthens your cardiovascular system and provides other benefits, such as stress relief. Get at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise five days a week, or 150 minutes per week, to keep your heart healthy. Pick an exercise you enjoy and stick with it. Walking is an easy, free way to get moderate exercise.

Lifestyle choices

Even small changes can make a big difference in your cardiovascular health. We recommend:

  • Finding ways, such as practicing yoga or meditation, to cope with stress
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Limiting alcohol
  • Not smoking and avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke. If you need help to quit, take part in our smoking cessation program
  • Staying at a healthy weight and losing weight if you’re overweight

Managing health conditions

Lower your risk for cardiovascular problems by:

  • Treating any health conditions you have, such as diabetes or high blood pressure
  • Taking any medications your doctor prescribes as directed
  • Lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) and increasing your HDL (good cholesterol) levels. Having higher levels of HDL may help prevent heart attack and prevent buildup of fat in the arteries. Raise your HDL levels by getting enough exercise, avoiding saturated fats (found in red meat, egg yolks, and dairy products), and choosing monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats (found in fish, olive oil, and canola oil)

Preventive care and screening tests

Visit your primary care provider regularly for checkups and preventive care. To monitor your cardiovascular health and catch signs of a problem as early as possible, your doctor will measure your:

  • Blood pressure – Starting at age 20, get your blood pressure tested at least once every two years
  • Blood glucose (sugar) – Starting at age 45, have your blood sugar levels checked at least every three years
  • Cholesterol levels – Starting at age 20, have a blood test to check your cholesterol levels every five years. If your results are outside the normal range, you may need more frequent screenings
  • Height and weight to calculate your body mass index (BMI) – At every physical exam, your doctor will determine your BMI (body fat measurement)

Your primary care provider can also help you identify and take steps to lower cardiovascular risk factors that are in your control. Based on your risk factors or the results of your screenings, your doctor may recommend additional tests, such as a calcium score scan. This test shows your risk for coronary artery disease.

Classes and programs

Learn from knowledgeable instructors in a supportive environment. Montage Health is your trusted local resource for classes, lectures, and other events that focus on preventing cardiovascular diseases and living a healthy lifestyle.

How to make an appointment

You’ll need a referral from your doctor or a cardiologist to get care at Tyler Heart Institute. Talk to your primary care provider, search for a cardiologist, or contact us at (831) 625-4934.

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