Jefferson University Hospitals

Heart Disease Prevention

Controlling Your Risks

Risk factors are conditions or habits that raise your chance of getting heart disease and/or increase the chance that your existing heart disease may not be improving.

Fortunately, many forms of heart disease are preventable. Although some risk factors cannot be changed – like gender, age, and family history – other can be mitigated by changes to your lifestyle. Make an appointment with your doctor to know your risk factors.  

About every 43 seconds, someone in the United States has a heart attack.

8 Ways to Prevent Heart Disease

1. Control High Blood Pressure

Twenty- eight percent of Americans have high blood pressure and are unaware of it, according to the American Heart Association. A healthy blood pressure is less than 120 for the top number (systolic blood pressure) and less than 80 for the bottom number (diastolic blood pressure). Take the time to get your blood pressure checked regularly.

Try going for a power walk. Load up o potassium-rich sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and bananas. Drink decaf. Listen to your favorite music, relax, and become more mindful.

2. Improve Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels

Cholesterol is a waxy substance produced by the liver and found in certain foods. As your cholesterol levels increase, so does your risk of heart disease.

To improve your cholesterol and triglyceride (an unhealthy type of fat in your blood) levels, eat fish high in omega-3s, three or more times per week. Eat fiber-rich foods like oatmeal, beans, and apples. Limit your portion sizes of red meat to 3-4 ounce servings. Also, decrease and/or avoid alcohol.

High blood pressure, high LDL "bad" cholesterol and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease. About half of Americans (49%) have at least one of these three risk factors, according to the CDC.

3. Control Diabetes

Diabetes can contribute to significant heart damage, including heart attacks. However, you can control diabetes by eating healthy foods, keeping off excess weight, exercising, and taking prescribed medications.

Make an appointment with our Diabetes Center for diabetes, education, nutrition counseling, and more.

4. Lose Weight (and Keep the Weight Off)

Excess weight puts significant stress on your heart and magnifies several other heart disease risk factors. But if you eat right, set aside time to stay active, you can reduce your risk of heart disease significantly.

Learn about our Comprehensive Weight Management Program to see how you can make positive steps towards a healthier you.

5. Stop Smoking

Did you know that smokers have more than twice the risk of heart attack than people who don't smoke? People exposed to secondhand smoke have an increased risk as well. Take measures to quit, such as joining our smoking cessation program, JeffQuit.

Cigarette smoking is the most important risk factor for young men and women - it produces a greater relative risk of heart disease in persons under 50 than in those over 50, as well as decreases HDL (good) cholesterol.

JeffQuit combines three sessions, stop-smoking aids, hypnosis, and individual support and coaching to maximize your success of quitting smoking.

6. Be Active

A lack of physical activity may lead to a greater chance of heart disease compared to people who participate in mild to moderate physical activity. New American Heart Association guidelines recommend at least 40 minutes of exercise, three to four days a week.

Physical activity is anything that makes you move your body and burn calories, such as raking leaves, climbing stairs, walking or playing sports.

Need some motivation? Read about our fitness experts discussing what works for getting to and maintaining a healthy weight.

7. Choose Healthy Foods

It’s tough to make the right food choices every day, but the benefits can pay off. A heart healthy diet should be low in:

  • Salt
  • Saturated & Trans Fats
  • Cholesterol
  • Refined Sugars

Fruits and vegetables provide fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and other essential nutrients. But how much should you eat on a daily basis? Try this handy calculator from the CDC.

8. Reduce Stress

Take time out for your heart. Reduce stress in your life by taking a vacation, reading a good book, meditating, counting to 10, gardening, seeing a movie, going for a stroll – whatever you find relaxing. Maybe our Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programs are right for you?

Meet Our Team

Meet our cardiology team, dedicated to your overall heart health.

Make an Appointment with a Cardiologist

Want to know your risk factors for heart disease or get a routine screening? Call 1-800-JEFF-NOW (1-800-533-3669) to make an appointment or schedule online below.