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Risk Factors

A healthy lifestyle can help prevent or delay the onset of heart disease, diabetes and many other chronic medical conditions. So where do you start?

We all know that diet and exercise influence our overall health, but many of us never expected our inactivity and bad eating habits would put us at risk of a dangerous health condition.  The good news is that there are many steps you can take to improve your health and reduce your risk factors starting today. Even if you’ve been diagnosed with heart disease or diabetes, Ellis Medicine offers treatments, programs and resources to help you live with your disease.

Talk to your doctor about managing risk factors

Your primary care physician or cardiologist can help you identify risk factors and modify your lifestyle to avoid heart disease. He or she will likely recommend regular screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol levels and diabetes, or other simple tests. Knowing your blood pressure, cholesterol and other important health numbers is important. Ellis' Women & Heart Disease program provides target numbers for women to live heart healthy lives.

Your doctor can also help you with diet, exercise and lifestyle changes, or suggest medications to help control your risk factors. Make an appointment with your current physician, or find a doctor here.

Stop smoking today

Tobacco use is one of the greatest risk factors for heart disease and one of the easiest to avoid or eliminate. While quitting may be hard, it has immediate and long-term benefits for your heart and overall health. There are many solutions available to help you quit smoking, including prescription medications and over-the-counter products to help reduce your dependency on tobacco and alleviate withdrawal symptoms. Ellis Medicine offers smoking session classes and support groups throughout the year, as do many other organizations. Ask your doctor for suggestions on the best way for you to quit smoking.

Get plenty of exercise

Exercise regularly: Physical inactivity is another easily avoidable risk factor for heart disease, so get moving:. Try to exercise 30-60 minutes daily. Start slow and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your work out. Walking is a great exercise for most people, but talk to your doctor if you need advice on an exercise plan that’s right for you.

Watch your weight

Being overweight increases your risk of developing heart disease. Use this Body Mass Index (BMI) Calculator to see if you’re at a healthy weight for your height. Your doctor can help you manage your weight through diet and exercise, or refer you to a weight loss specialist if necessary.

Embrace a heart healthy diet

Eating a heart healthy, low fat diet can help control several risk factors for coronary heart disease, including high cholesterol, obesity and diabetes. Follow recommendations for your ideal body weight and daily calorie intake to maintain a healthy weight.  For more help, consider taking a class at Ellis or consult with a registered dietician.

Tips for healthy eating:

  • Try to eat fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains and limit your intake of high-fat foods that are low in nutrition.
  • When shopping, start in the produce section. Choose fresh, locally grown vegetables and fruits., with a mix of bright vibrant colors.
  • Whole grains, dried beans, lentils and fruits and vegetables provide phytonutrients and antioxidants that can help decrease blood pressure, prevent plaque formation and lower cholesterol levels.
  • Fish, especially salmon and sardines, offer a great source for protein as well as heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Healthy fats, such as extra virgin olive oil, nuts and seeds also should be incorporated in your diet. Limit your intake of saturated fats and trans fats.

Community Wellness Program for CHF patients

Ellis Medicine’s outpatient program helps heart disease patients, especially those with congestive heart failure (CHF), better manage their health and prevent their condition from progressing. Located in the Medical Arts Building adjacent to Ellis Hospital, the program offers health screening, education and care, plus direct access to nutrition counseling, physical and/or cardiac rehabilitation and other services vital to achieving and maintaining good heart health. Talk to your doctor to learn more about the Community Wellness Program for Congestive Heart Failure, or contact us at 518.243.4771 (Hours: Monday and Friday, 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.)

Diet and lifestyle classes at Ellis

Ellis Medicine offers regular "Heart Smart" nutrition classes, smoking cessation classes and educational programs and support to help prevent diabetes and heart disease. To learn more about health and wellness classes offered by Ellis Medicine, click here.

Talk to your primary care physician or click here to find a doctor.
For more information about Ellis Medicine’s Wright Heart Center, please call 518.243.3333.