Heart and Vascular Health 5 Tips for a Healthy Heart By Heart and Vascular Institute, February 8, 2014 Heart specialists have identified essential ways of reducing the risk of heart disease that involve reducing factors that lead to clogged arteries. Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. It can appear in many forms including: Heart attack Heart failure High blood pressure Heart arrhythmia Valve disease While there are some heart disease risk factors that cannot be changed such as age, family history of heart disease, and previous coronary heart disease, the good news is that heart disease is often preventable. Here are some tips to maintain a healthy heart: Eat a heart-healthy diet – Avoid processed foods and foods with high salt content. Choose a diet low in cholesterol, saturated fat, and trans fat. Include a variety of foods from all food groups each day. Exercising regularly – 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week burns fat and lowers cholesterol. Exercise also helps lower blood pressure, or to keep it low if it is normal already. Reduce stress – When you are stressed, your heart rate rises, your blood pressure may increase, and your immune system does not function as well. Try simple relaxation techniques such as breathing or yoga to de-stress. Maintain a healthy body weight – Obesity increases cholesterol levels, plaque and inflammation of the arteries. Quit smoking – Cigarettes and cigarette smoke contain more than 4,000 harmful ingredients, many of which contribute to heart disease and may cause cancer. Always consult your doctor before starting an exercise program. If you think you may have, or are at risk for heart disease, consult your primary care physician or visit UPMC’s Heart and Vascular Institute at UPMC.com/HVI.