Six Ways to Improve Your Heart Health 

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Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Fortunately, up to 80% of heart disease is preventable and there are many things you can do to reduce your risk.

February is recognized as American Heart Month. This month, and year-round, the university offers programs and resources that can help reduce your risk of heart disease and high blood pressure (also called hypertension).

Here are six ways to improve your heart health:

Raise your awareness

Knowing your blood pressure numbers and whether you are at risk are important. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly half of adults in the U.S. have hypertension.

  • Check in on your health: One way to understand your current health is by taking MHealthy’s confidential health questionnaire (HQ) on the MHealthy Portal. In about 10 minutes, you’ll see which well-being areas are thriving, learn which may need attention, and get a tailored list of resources to support you. For 2024, active, benefits-eligible faculty and staff can also earn a $75 reward by completing the HQ and setting a goal on the portal by May 31.

  • Test your knowledge: Think you know the truth about hypertension and heart disease? Take this short Heart Health I.Q. Challenge. You might be surprised by what you learn! 

Get moving

Experts recommend striving for at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week. Even short periods of daily activity add up and can have lasting heart health benefits.

  • Move more, from anywhere: No matter where you’re working – onsite, remote, or somewhere in between – there’s an MHealthy physical activity class option for you. MHealthy offers in-person classes as well as its Physical Activity Library on MiVideo where you can access dozens of videos covering strength, cardio, yoga, Zumba, and more.

Manage stress

It's no surprise that stress can trigger high blood pressure, heart attacks and other cardiovascular risks. 

Eat healthfully and reduce your sodium intake

Eating healthier can help to reduce the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol, which can raise your risk of heart disease and heart attack. Too much sodium may cause your body to hold on to extra water, which can raise blood pressure and force your heart and kidneys to work harder.

  • Attend a free cooking class: MHealthy offers free virtual cooking classes each month. Interact live with expert chefs and dietitians while learning to make delicious, healthier foods.

  • Discover a new favorite recipe: You can also find more than hundreds of delicious and easy MHealthy recipes online emphasizing whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, lean protein, low-fat dairy and healthy fats.

Quit tobacco 

No matter how long you've used tobacco, quitting will reduce your risk for heart attack and heart disease.

  • Don’t go it alone: 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.

  • Not sure if you’re ready to quit? If you're thinking about quitting but aren't sure how to start, attend a one-hour virtual workshop from the Tobacco Consultation Service. Meet a tobacco treatment specialist and learn about tools and resources available when you are ready to take the first step.

Limit alcohol consumption

Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure, which increases your risk for heart disease and stroke.

  • Talk to someone: The MHealthy Alcohol Management Program offers free, confidential health education to help you cut back on your drinking or quit altogether— you decide which is the right approach for you. 

Find more heart healthy programs and resources available through MHealthy and the university.

 

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