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Heart Health 101!

Cardiovascular disease, sometimes referred to as heart disease, is the number one killer in our county. It includes a wide range of diseases that involve the heart and blood vessels (arteries). These problems are often due to the development of atherosclerosis, or plaques, which are collections of fat and cholesterol that build up and cause narrowing in blood vessels. Over time, this build-up can cause narrowing of the arteries throughout the body and, if arteries becomes blocked, can lead to heart attack or stroke.


Types of Cardiovascular Disease:

  • Coronary heart disease (CHD)

  • Heart attacks

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)

  • Heart failure

  • Stroke

  • Peripheral artery disease

  • Heart arrhythmia

  • Heart valve diseases

Causes of Cardiovascular Disease: There are numerous factors that work together in the development of cardiovascular disease. There is also a number of risk factors that can increase your risk of developing it. The greater the number of risk factors that you have, the greater your chances of developing cardiovascular disease. Risk factors include:

  • Age: risk increases with age

  • Smoking

  • High cholesterol

  • Diabetes

  • Diets high in salt, sugar, and fat

  • Having overweight or obesity

  • Inactivity

  • Family history

  • Excess alcohol consumption

  • Gender: men are at higher risk


Ways to Maintain Good Cardiovascular Health:

  1. Dietary Recommendations

    1. Foods rich in antioxidants and fiber are critical to protecting the heart!

    2. Foods rich in vitamins C, D, E, Coenzyme Q10, and Omega-3 fatty acids

    3. Fiber helps to bring down cholesterol. The goal for women is 25 grams per day; for men, it is 38 grams per day

    4. Antioxidant rich food options to protect against inflammation and plaque development

      1. Spices like cumin, cinnamon, and rosemary

      2. Herbs like sage, thyme, and marjoram

      3. Fruit such as blueberries, cherries, and acai

      4. Vegetables like kale, sweet potatoes, and beets

      5. Grains/legumes like oats and beans

    5. Limit intake of:

      1. Sodium: limit to 1300-1500 mg per day

      2. Sugar: limit to 25 grams (6 tsp.) per day for women; 50 grams (12 tsp.) for men

      3. High fat foods

      4. Limit saturated fat to no more than 10% of your total calories

  2. Avoid smoking! Harmful substances in cigarettes and other tobacco products can damage and narrow your blood vessel

  3. Physical activity

    1. Move your body! You should get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week

  4. Manage stress

    1. Cortisol goes up when we are stressed, driving up our blood pressure, blood sugar, and inflammation

    2. 90-second deep breathing exercises whenever you feel stressed can bring down cortisol

Know Your Numbers:

  • Weight/BMI

  • Blood pressure

  • Lipid panel (HDL, LDL, and triglycerides)

  • Hemoglobin A1C

  • Vitamin D

Additional resources can be found at:


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