HSHS hospitals provide healthy eating and exercise tips during American Heart Month

Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls, WI – Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States; one in every four deaths is from heart disease or stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These conditions are also leading causes of disabilities which prevent people from working and enjoying family activities. 

While there are some health risks you may not have control over when it comes to heart disease, such as family history, there are things you can do to reduce your risk such as maintaining a healthy diet and incorporating exercise into your lifestyle.

During American Heart Month – a month dedicated to raising awareness about the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals are committed to educating the public on how to lead a healthier lifestyle and keep hearts beating strong.  

Healthy Eating
Knowing which foods to eat more of and which foods to limit is a good place to begin your heart healthy lifestyle.

  • Limit unhealthy fats and cholesterol. Limiting saturated and trans fats is the most important step you can take to reduce your blood cholesterol and lower your risk of coronary artery disease. A high blood cholesterol level can lead to a buildup of plaque in your arteries, which can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.

  • Choose low-fat protein sources. Lean meat, poultry and fish, low-fat dairy products and egg whites are some of your best sources of protein. Beans and peas also are good sources of protein.

  • Eat more vegetables and fruits. Vegetables and fruits are good sources of vitamins and minerals. They are low in calories and rich in dietary fiber. Vegetables and fruits also contain substances found in plants that may help prevent cardiovascular disease. 

  • Select whole grains. Whole grains are a good source of fiber and other nutrients that play a role in regulating blood pressure and heart health. You can increase the amount of whole grains in a heart-healthy diet by making simple substitutions for refined grain products. 

  • Reduce the sodium (salt) in your food. Sodium can contribute to high blood pressure, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. 

HSHS dietician, Susan Kasik-Miller said symptoms can vary widely for heart disease, and some heart disease goes undetected until a catastrophic event such as a heart attack or sudden death.

“That makes preventive measures all the more important,” she said. “You can make healthy changes to lower your risk of developing heart disease. Controlling and preventing risk factors is also important for people who already have heart disease.”

Activity and Exercise
According to the American Heart Association, a healthy level of exercise for adults is at least 150 minutes per week (about 20 minutes a day) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week (about 10 minutes a day) of vigorous aerobic activity or a combination of both spread throughout the week. Any physical movement is good and burns calories, but aerobic or “cardio” activity benefits your heart.

  • Go for a walk. The simplest way to get moving and improve your health is to start walking. It's free, easy and can be done just about anywhere. Even walking in place can help. 

  • Take the stairs. While the elevator may be easy to climb floors, it doesn’t make your heart rate climb. Take the stairs when you can, even if just a floor or two. And don’t just ride the escalator – climb it to increase your activity.

  • Add movement to your workday. If you have lots of phone calls on your cell phone throughout your day, try walking and talking. If you sit at a desk, make a habit of standing up or moving every time you make or answer a phone call. 

  • Stand rather than sit at work. Explore your options for using a standing desk or sit-stand desk riser. Try alternating sitting and standing throughout the day, while also taking walking and stretching breaks.

If you have a chronic condition or disability, talk with your health care provider about what’s right for you before making too many exercise or dietary changes. 

To learn more, visit the  American Heart Association website.


About HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital
HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries, the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the Founding Institute, and it is an affiliate of Hospital Sisters Health System. Since 1889, it has been meeting patient needs in western Wisconsin with the latest medical innovations and technology, together with a Franciscan whole-person healing tradition.

About Hospital Sisters Health System
Hospital Sisters Health System’s (HSHS) mission is to reveal and embody Christ’s healing love for all people through our high quality, Franciscan health care ministry. HSHS provides state-of-the-art health care to our patients and is dedicated to serving all people, especially the most vulnerable, at each of our physician practices and 15 local hospitals in two states - Illinois (Breese, Decatur, Effingham, Greenville, Highland, Litchfield, O’Fallon, Shelbyville and Springfield) and Wisconsin (Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Oconto Falls, Sheboygan, and two in Green Bay). HSHS is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries,  and Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the founding institute. For more information about HSHS, visit www.hshs.org. For more information about Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, visit www.hospitalsisters.org.

Media Contact

Karen Kraus

Communications Department
HSHS Wisconsin
Office: (715) 717-4747
Cell: (715) 717-4256

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