5 lifestyle changes to keep your heart healthy

Posted at 12:11 PM, Feb 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-10 14:11:38-05

February is American Heart Month, a time when people can focus on their heart health. Intermountain Healthcare Heart Services is working to educate Utahns about ways to enhance their heart health.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease – and about 659,000 people in the United States die from heart disease each year—that's 1 in every 4 deaths.

Some stats about heart disease and women: 
• 43 million women are currently living with some form of heart disease
• 1 in 3 women will die from heart disease each year
• More than 2.6 million women have a history of heart attack

Concerns for Women’s Heart Health: 
• 33% of women do not engage in leisure-time physical activity.
• 60% of Caucasian women, 79.9% of African-American women, and 78% of Hispanic-American women are overweight or obese
• Among Latina women, 31% have cardiovascular disease
• Among African-American women, 49% have cardiovascular disease

Know Your Family History
There is an Increased risk for heart disease if a parent or sibling has a history of heart disease before age 55 for males or 65 for females.

Cari Larkins, 46, knows first-hand the role family history can play in your heart health. Although Cari had a long history of elevated cholesterol and she knew her father and grandfather had similar heart issues, she says she didn’t take it serious enough.

She is now recovering from quadruple bypass surgery to remove blockage in her heart.

“I only began treatment a year ago,” said Cari. “Heart disease is not convenient, but it’s worth your life and there’s a lot I’m now doing to reduce my risks and remain healthy.”

5 tips to Enhance Your Heart Health: 
1) Reach and Keep a Healthy Weight. You'll reduce your blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes risk, hitting three key risk factors at once.
2) Trim Saturated Fat and Salt from Your Diet. When you can, trade butter for heart-healthy canola or olive oil. Swap red meat for seafood, a good source of omega-3 fats that help reduce triglycerides, clotting, and blood pressure.
3) Move More. Exercising at a moderate to high intensity for 40 minutes on average, 3 to 4 days a week, can lower your blood pressure, strengthen your heart, decrease stress, and result in weight loss.
4) Quit smoking. Smoking is the most common risk factor for women and triples your heart attack risk.
5) De-stress daily. Finding ways to defuse stress will help slow your breathing and heart rate as you lower your blood pressure.

Getting Heart Care 
If you need heart care, the cardiovascular team at Intermountain Healthcare is here for you. Intermountain Healthcare provides heart care for more Utahns than any other health system.
The Intermountain Healthcare Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center has been named as one of the top 50 heart hospitals in the nation for providing excellent cardiovascular care for 2022 by Fortune Magazine and IBM Watson Health.

*The annual Fortune/IBM 50 Top Cardiovascular Hospitals study identifies leading US heart hospitals that treat a broad spectrum of cardiology patients. The study is designed to highlight benchmarks for hospitals and clinical leaders across the country as they work to raise their own standards of performance in cardiac care.