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, about 1 in 3 U.S. adults have high blood pressure, but only about half have it under control.
- 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 2023, active, benefits-eligible faculty and staff can also earn a $75 reward by completing the HQ by May 31, 2023.
- Know how to help in an emergency: According to the American Heart Association, immediate CPR can double or triple chances of survival after cardiac arrest. To raise awareness, drop-in hands-only CPR and AED trainings are scheduled for Feb. 10, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., at Shapiro Library Lobby and Feb. 20, 6 – 7 p.m., at Crisler Center.
Experts recommend striving for at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week. Even small bouts 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 has returned to offering in-person classes, while still offering free virtual classes on Slack and through its video library on the MHealthy Portal.
It's no surprise that stress can trigger high blood pressure, heart attacks and other cardiovascular risks.
- Lift your mood: If you need a little support this winter, check out these virtual presentations, mini workshops and support and discussion groups offered by the Faculty and Staff Counseling and Consultation Office. Topics include creating healthy boundaries, understanding anxiety, dealing with divorce, exercising forgiveness, and more. The Office of Counseling and Workplace Resilience also offers a variety of workshops and educational sessions to support you and your colleagues.
- Talk to someone: No-cost counseling services are available to staff, faculty, retirees, and adult dependents.
- Access health plan coverage: U-M health plans cover mental and behavioral health services like counseling, therapy and substance abuse treatment.
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 300 delicious and easy recipes online that emphasizing whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, lean protein, low-fat dairy and healthy fats.
No matter how long you've used tobacco, quitting will reduce your risk.
- 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.
- Support a tobacco-free environment: U-M's Tobacco-Free University Premises policy website includes information on the updated policy as well as support and tools to assist you on your tobacco-free journey.
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.
- Hear from the experts: On February 23 from 12 – 1 p.m., the Frankel Cardiovascular Center will host a livestream panel of CVC cardiologists, discussing “Cannabis/Alcohol and the Heart.” Learn more.