Taking Care of Your Heart

March 1, 2013

In the United States, the most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD), which can lead to a heart attack. You can greatly reduce your risk for CAD through lifestyle changes and, in some cases, medication.

Heart Disease Facts


Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2006 were women. Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease. In 2005, 445,687 people died from coronary heart disease. Every year about 785,000 Americans have a first heart attack. Another 470,000 who have already had one or more heart attacks have another attack. In 2010, the estimated cost to the United States for heart disease was $316.4 billion. This total includes the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity.

Healthy Lifestyle  – Key Points

Eat a healthy diet. Choosing healthful meal and snack options can help you avoid heart disease and its complications. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Eating foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in fiber can help prevent high blood cholesterol. Limiting salt or sodium in your diet can also lower your blood pressure.

Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for heart disease. To determine whether your weight is in a healthy range, doctors often calculate a number called the body mass index (BMI). Doctors sometimes also use waist and hip measurements to measure a person’s excess body fat.

Exercise regularly. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. The Surgeon General recommends that adults should engage in moderate-intensity exercise for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.

Don’t smoke. Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease. So, if you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. Your doctor can suggest ways to help you quit.

Limit alcohol use. Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which causes or increases high blood pressure.

If you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes, there are steps you can take to lower your risk for heart disease.

Have your cholesterol checked. Your health care provider should test your cholesterol levels at least once every five years. Talk with your doctor about this simple blood test.

Monitor your blood pressure. High blood pressure has no symptoms, so be sure to have it checked on a regular basis.

Manage your diabetes. If you have diabetes, closely monitor your blood sugar levels. Talk with your health care provider about treatment options.

Take your medicine. If you’re taking medication to treat high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes, follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. Always ask questions if you don’t understand something.

Talk with your health care provider. You and your doctor can work together to prevent or treat the medical conditions that lead to heart disease. Discuss your treatment plan regularly and bring a list of questions to your appointments.

Enjoying a healthy lifestyle is important as well as regular health checks. Selecting the correct health insurance plan is critical and for assistance please call one of  our licensed agents at 1-800-585-1776 or visit California Health Plans for a health insurance quote.

Post author Loren Pleet