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Heart healthy living

Live a longer, healthier life with a healthy heart

In today’s busy world, it can be challenging to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It is easy to get off track with temptations like fast food and sugary drinks and it can be hard to find the energy to exercise when you have to juggle work, children and a social life.

At Novant Health UVA Health System, helping our communities stay healthy and informed is a mission we work hard toward every day. To support this goal, we provide education and a variety of programs and services to help make a healthier lifestyle easier to attain. Our healthy living programs are designed to help prevent and manage heart disease. From maintaining a good diet to staying active and exercising, we can help you take control of your health. Taking care of your heart and living a long and healthy life go hand-in-hand.

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Be an advocate for your health

There are several lifestyle changes and actions you can take to reduce your risk of heart disease:

  • Exercise 30 to 60 minutes a day.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Eat foods that are low in saturated fat, cholesterol and salt.
  • Take prescription medications appropriately.
  • Manage your risk factors (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes).

Exercise for a stronger heart

In general, you should do moderate exercise, such as walking at a brisk pace, for 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week. If it works better for your schedule, you can break up your physical activity into several 10- to 15- minute sessions throughout the day. The benefits are still the same.

A healthy weight lowers your heart disease risk -Being overweight and having a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher can put you at increased risk for heart disease. A healthy weight varies from person-to-person, but having a normal BMI is helpful. The BMI calculation helps you to determine if you have a healthy or unhealthy percentage of body fat. Losing just 10 to 15 pounds can help lower your blood pressure and help prevent diabetes – both of which increase your risk of heart disease.

BMI Calculator

Do you know your family health history?

Family history is a risk factor for heart disease that cannot be changed. However, being informed of your family's health history and controlling any other risk factors you have could be key in protecting you from heart disease. A family health history shows the pattern of certain diseases in a family and helps determine risk factors for those and other diseases.

What can you do if cardiovascular disease is in your family's health history?

  • Talk to your healthcare provider about your family history of cardiovascular disease
  • Make a plan to preserve your health
  • Have regular screenings and risk assessments by a healthcare provider
  • Engage in healthy behavior

Do you know your numbers?

These are numbers everyone should keep track of on a regular basis:

  • Blood sugar levels
  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol levels
  • Body mass index

It is important to schedule an appointment with your doctor to check your numbers – even if you are not sick. Knowing your numbers today is much better than waiting until you are sick to see your doctor. It makes you and your doctor aware of your risk factors and helps lead you on the path to a heart-healthier you.