At the Morrissey Family Heart & Vascular Institute, our cardiac team is dedicated to helping you live a heart-healthy lifestyle. We invite you to share in our mission of creating a heart-healthy community.
Lifestyle Changes for a Healthier You
The best time to act is before a heart attack. The Morrissey Family Heart & Vascular Institute believes everyone should make healthy lifestyle changes, even small ones, to help prevent heart and vascular disease and improve overall health.
Some cholesterol-boosting factors you have no control over, such as age, gender, and heredity. However, there are lifestyle choices you can make to improve your cholesterol levels and potentially lower your risk of heart disease or stroke as a result.
What can you do today to lower your risk of heart disease?
Exercise more. Exercise can raise your "good" cholesterol. In addition, exercise helps you lose weight, reducing your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and colon cancer. Aim for 30 minutes of aerobic activity (for example, brisk walking) every day. If that seems like too much, try for 20-30 minutes of exercise at least three times a week.
Lose weight. Even losing a modest amount (five to 10 pounds) can increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or good cholesterol) levels and lower your total cholesterol.
Quit smoking. Quitting smoking helps return your HDL to a higher level.
- Fat. If you enjoy red meat, choose lean cuts (tenderloin, top, and bottom round). Remove fat before cooking and broil or bake instead of frying. Switch to nonfat or one-percent milk.
- Cooking oil. Choose oils that are liquid at room temperature, such as canola, corn, soybean, sunflower, or cottonseed.
- Poultry and fish. Aim for two to three servings per week of baked or broiled fish, especially darker-fleshed fish such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, salmon, and halibut. These fish have more omega-3 oils, which help lower blood triglycerides.
- Soluble fiber. This is found in fruit, beans, peas, and oats.
Take a vitamin E (400 IU) supplement every day. This antioxidant may help you more easily absorb low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or bad cholesterol).
Cholesterol-lowering drugs. Talk to your doctor about taking a cholesterol-lowering drug. This may be beneficial if lifestyle changes are not sufficient, or if you are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease. Statin drugs are generally safe and effective, lowering your risk of heart disease.
At risk for heart disease?
Heart disease comes in many forms and can affect people of any age, gender, or ethnicity. In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. The more you can learn about your heart health, the better. Knowledge is truly powerful medicine that helps you understand your risks and take action to lessen your potential for problems. It can lead to early detection, and most importantly, to early treatment and better outcomes.
Take this quick assessment to:
- Understand symptoms, causes, and types of heart disease
- Determine your risk factors for developing heart disease
- Learn which lifestyle factors can decrease your risk