Seven steps to improve cardiovascular health

February 04, 2020

Get inspired during American Heart Month. Begin working on seven steps that can help improve your cardiovascular health and prolong your life.

Each February, American Heart Month raises awareness about the importance of cardiovascular health in an effort to save lives. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among both men and women in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The American Heart Association, which sponsors American Heart Month, has identified seven steps — called Life’s Simple 7 — that can help improve your cardiovascular health and potentially add years to your life:

  1. Manage blood pressure. When your blood pressure stays within healthy ranges, you reduce the strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys.
  2. Control cholesterol. High cholesterol contributes to plaque, which can clog arteries and lead to heart disease and stroke.
  3. Manage blood sugar levels. Over time, high levels of blood sugar can damage your heart, kidneys, eyes, and nerves.
  4. Maintain a healthy weight. When you shed unnecessary pounds, you reduce the burden on your heart, lungs, blood vessels, and skeletal system.
  5. Engage in regular physical activity. Daily physical activity increases longevity and quality of life.
  6. Eat a healthy diet. A heart-healthy diet is one of the best weapons for fighting cardiovascular disease.
  7. Don’t smoke. Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

A good way to incorporate these seven steps into your daily life is to schedule an annual preventive exam. Your doctor can make recommendations for lifestyle, exercise, or diet changes to help you improve or maintain your health. You can also ask for a blood test during your preventive exam. The results of your test can help your doctor detect and address any underlying problems, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, even if you aren’t having any symptoms.

Answer the Call to Health

You can earn 400 Call to Health points when you have your preventive exam.* To get your points, record your exam on the Call to Health website. You can earn another 100 points by recording your health numbers, including cholesterol and blood sugar levels, on the website.

*Call to Health is available to employees and their spouses with medical coverage through the Board of Pensions; it is not available to members enrolled in Triple-S, GeoBlue, or the Medicare Supplement Plan.