How to Improve Your Heart Health

Dignity Health Heart and Vascular Institute of Greater Sacramento established the Heart Shaped Community program to help empower Sacramento women to take charge of their heart health. We want to help identify women who are at risk for heart disease and help all women identify simple steps they can take to improve their health.

Heart Health: Advice for Women

There are lifestyle changes you can make today that can improve your health and lower your risk for cardiovascular disease. Talk to your doctor about your risk for heart disease.


  • Don't smoke. Tobacco use lowers your level of good cholesterol, raises your blood pressure and promotes clotting. Need help quitting? Learn about our Smoking Cessation class.
  • Control cholesterol. Most heart disease is the result of cholesterol-rich, fatty buildup that narrows the vessels that supply blood to your heart. There are two sources of cholesterol: your body, which makes cholesterol to aid digestion, and the foods you eat.
  • Know your LDL. LDL, or bad cholesterol, accounts for most of the cholesterol in your blood and is considered most responsible for the formation of plaque. Most people with coronary artery disease (CAD) require medication to achieve target LDL levels.
  • Control high blood pressure. High blood pressure damages arteries, setting the stage for plaque formation. It also increases the stress on the heart muscle, which may cause damage to the organ.
  • Exercise. People who have had heart attacks may increase their chances of survival if they change their habits to include regular physical activity. Exercise can help control blood fats and blood glucose, maintain weight and lower blood pressure. Find out if our Fitness for Life© program help jumpstart your fitness routine.
  • Keep blood sugar within normal ranges. People with diabetes are very susceptible to CAD. It is especially important for people with diabetes to control their blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol. We offer a class for patients to learn about Diabetes Management and Nutrition for Today.
  • Manage stress. Stress is a normal part of everyone's life. It is not the stress that increases your risk for CAD but how you cope with it.
  • Control your weight. By itself, obesity increases your risk for CAD. Obesity also contributes to other risk factors, including hypertension, high blood cholesterol and diabetes.