Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and having high blood pressure (also called hypertension) increases the risk for heart disease and stroke. Fortunately, up to 80% of heart disease is preventable, and there are many things you can do to reduce your risk.
The American Heart Association, along with many other groups around the country, recognizes February as American Heart Month. In support, the university offers programs and resources that can help reduce your risk of hypertension and heart disease.
- Raise your awareness
Think you know the truth about hypertension and heart disease? Test your knowledge by taking the Heart Health I.Q. Challenge. Complete the challenge by Feb. 28 and enter to win one of five $10 Amazon gift cards.
- Know your numbers
Knowing your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers is an important step in understanding your heart health risk. If you are a benefits-eligible faculty or staff member, sign up for a wellness screening through MHealthy Rewards and learn what these numbers mean to you. Plus, you can earn up to $220!
- Get moving
Experts recommend being physically active most days of the week. Move more by joining a U-M fitness center or taking an MHealthy exercise class (Ann Arbor campus).
- Get support for lasting weight-loss
Overweight and obesity are linked to high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Ready To Lose, MHealthy's free weight loss program for those with a BMI above 25, offers coaching, personal support, and weekly educational webinars. The university also offers special pricing for WW (formerly Weight Watchers).
- Eat smarter
Adopting a nutritious diet and watching your sodium intake are important for managing your weight and blood pressure. MHealthy offers monthly cooking classes and has more than 300 delicious and easy recipes that are MHealthy-approved!
- Manage stress
It's no surprise that stress can trigger high blood pressure, heart attack and other cardiovascular risks. No-cost counseling services are available to staff, faculty, retirees, and adult dependents. And U-M health plans cover mental and behavioral health services like counseling, therapy and substance abuse treatment.
- Quit tobacco
No matter how long you've used tobacco, quitting will reduce your risk. The MHealthy Tobacco Consultation Service offers free, one-on-one counseling and eligible U-M drug plan members can get prescription and over-the-counter smoking cessation medications with no copay.
- Limit alcohol consumption
Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure. The MHealthy Alcohol Management Program offers no cost, confidential health education to help you cut back on your drinking or quit altogether— you decide which is the right approach for you.