Press Releases: Georgia
February 20, 2012
Thrive Guide: Make Heart-Healthy Choices
ATLANTA — A healthy heart is essential to a healthy existence. To take care of your heart, take care of the whole you.
“Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Georgia for many reasons,” explains Andrew Kobylivker, MD, a cardiologist with Kaiser Permanente Georgia. “Risk factors for heart disease include obesity, physical inactivity, uncontrolled hypertension and diabetes. Most of these can be prevented, or at least managed.”
Follow these guidelines to keep your heart healthy, or help it heal:
Eat right for your heart. Consuming heart-healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, healthy proteins and whole grains on a daily basis will help keep your heart and blood vessels in good shape. Incorporate oily fish, such as salmon, into your diet twice a week. Avoid trans-fats and limit your intake of fat, cholesterol, sodium and sugar. Create a weekly menu featuring heart-healthy foods and visit farmers markets for fresh inspiration.
If you drink alcohol, drink it in moderation. Drinking too much alcohol can raise your total cholesterol levels and your blood pressure. Limit alcohol to no more than one drink a day for women or two drinks a day for men. A drink equals:
- 12 ounces of beer
- 5 ounces of wine
- 1 ounce of liquor
Get your heart pumping. At Kaiser Permanente Georgia, we recommend that you do 150 minutes of exercise in a week or at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days. If you can’t do all 30 minutes at once, do 10 minutes at a time.
Brisk walking, swimming, or cycling are especially good for the heart, but choose any activity you enjoy. Start at your comfort level, and build up gradually. If you have heart disease, check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.
Maintain a healthy weight. Lowering your weight by just 10 percent can make a significant difference in reducing your heart disease risk.
De-stress your life. Stress, anger, anxiety and depression may keep your blood pressure high and increase your risk for heart attack, stroke and other illnesses. Talk with your health care provider about creating a personalized relaxation and stress-management plan.
If you smoke, now’s the time to quit. After just a year of being smoke-free, your risk of dying from heart disease is cut in half. Kaiser Permanente offers many resources to help you take this critical step to improve your health.
Partner with your care team
Sometimes exercise and changes in your diet aren’t enough to prevent or manage heart disease, especially if you have:
- high blood pressure
- unhealthy cholesterol or triglyceride levels
- uncontrolled diabetes
“At Kaiser Permanente, we recognize that providing coordinated medical care from a team of nurses, pharmacists, primary care physicians and specialists is vital to managing chronic disease,” explained Dr. Kobylivker. Work with your doctor and care team to develop a treatment plan that may include medications, healthy lifestyle changes and classes or online programs. You may need to take extra care to stay healthy:
Watch your cholesterol level. Cholesterol is an important chemical that your body needs, but too much can block your blood vessels and cause chest pain, a heart attack, or a stroke. Your care team can help you reduce your total and LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise your HDL (good) cholesterol through a healthy diet, exercise, and medication (if needed).
Keep your triglyceride levels low. Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your body and many foods. Having a fasting level of 150 mg/dL of triglycerides or greater in your blood may increase your risk of heart disease, especially when you have a high level of the bad cholesterol (LDL) or a low level of the good cholesterol (HDL).
Reduce high blood pressure. High blood pressure (hypertension) is a major cause of heart disease — and you may not experience any symptoms. The only way to tell whether you have high blood pressure is to have it measured. This is done routinely during most doctor visits.
If you do have high blood pressure:
- monitor it at home with a blood pressure cuff
- take your medications as prescribed, even if your blood pressure falls within a normal range (120/80 and lower)
If you have diabetes, manage it. People with type 2 diabetes have high rates of heart disease, so it’s extremely important that you work with your doctor and care team to manage it.
Take your medications faithfully. Whether you’re taking aspirin daily on the advice of your doctor or other heart medications, take them as prescribed.
About Thrive Guide
Kaiser Permanente Georgia created Thrive Guide as a resource for metro Atlanta media outlets. Our goal is to help the media empower their readers or viewers with information on leading a healthier lifestyle.
About Kaiser Permanente of Georgia
Kaiser Permanente is Georgia’s largest not-for-profit health plan. Its mission is to provide high quality, affordable health care services to improve the health of its members and the communities it serves. Kaiser Permanente serves more than 240,000 members in a 28-county service area in metro Atlanta with care focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists, and team of heath care providers. Expert and caring medical teams are supported by industry-leading technology and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the art delivery, and world-class chronic disease management. Nationally, Kaiser Permanente is recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers, serving approximately 8.9 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. For more information, visit www.kp.org.