Stay Healthy

At St. Joseph's 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. St. Joseph's Heart & Vascular Institute believes everyone should make healthy lifestyle changes, even small ones, to help prevent heart and vascular disease and improve your 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.

Eat less:

  • 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.

Eat more:

  • 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.