The Value of Prevention
“The positive thing about heart disease is that there are lots of things you can do on your own to reduce your risk substantially,” says cardiologist Dr. Jason Wasfy, director of quality and analytics at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. The best way to reduce your risk is to follow “The Simple 7” developed by the American Heart Association. Following these steps and being mindful of your heart health can not only save you a heart related hospital trip, but it can also greatly reduce your overall healthcare costs. A report published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found that health care costs were about $5,000 less per year in people with the most heart-healthy factors compared with those with the least number of factors.
Life’s Simple 7
- Never smoke or stop smoking. After just one year of not smoking, risk of heart disease is already lower.
- Get active! It is recommended to preform at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of intense exercise per week.
- Get balanced nutrition. Focus on including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, and nuts and limit your intake of processed foods and sugar.
- Reduce your blood sugar levels through healthy lifestyle changes. You should aim for a fasting blood glucose below 100 mg/dL.
- Be mindful of your cholesterol levels. Total cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dL.
- Take steps to manage blood pressure. Focus on keeping your blood pressure below 120/80 mm Hg.
- Maintain a healthy weight. It is recommended to have a body mass index (BMI) in the normal range (18.5–25)
Being physically active and eating healthier have the added benefit of helping you address the following four steps! Just remember that lifestyle changes are a process, but if you stay consistent, you will see and feel the results! Visit Harvard Health for more information!