Healthy tips and advice for lowering your risk of heart disease

Healthy tips and advice for lowering your risk of heart disease(BPT) – Every year in the United States, about 600,000 people die of heart disease – that’s one in every four deaths. Coronary heart disease (CHD), which can lead to heart attack, remains the most common type of heart disease amongst Americans – killing nearly 380,000 annually. What’s more – heart disease does not discriminate by race or gender and people of all ages and backgrounds may be at risk.

There are a number of conditions that can lead to heart disease, such as diabetes and high cholesterol. Despite these alarming statistics, the risk factors of CHD are preventable with the help of various lifestyle changes and, when needed, medication. Whether it be a slight change in your diet or incorporating a new form of exercise into your daily routine, taking steps toward reducing your risk is simple and shouldn’t be overlooked.

High blood pressure, high LDL (bad) cholesterol and smoking are three major risk factors for CHD.  One half of all Americans have at least one of these three risk factors.

Not sure where to start? Check out this list of tips and see what lifestyle modifications you can make to improve your overall heart health:

* Discover your true risk – There is a strong relationship between low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDLc) – also known as the bad cholesterol in the body – and heart disease; however, LDLc only accounts for 30 percent of the risk. The remaining 70 percent represents other risk factors not identified by a simple cholesterol test. Determine your risk by asking your doctor about comprehensive lipid testing, such as the VAP + Lipid Panel(R), which evaluates the complete lipid picture – not only cholesterol, but triglycerides and hereditary genetic lipid risk factors as well. With an accurate and comprehensive cholesterol analysis your clinician can identify your risks and create a personalized and effective treatment program to improve heart health and achieve healthy heart outcomes.

* Incorporate a healthy diet – Remember the age-old saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away?” Eating a well-balanced diet, including foods low in saturated fat, trans fats and high in fiber can help patients lower their risk. Try consuming at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Also, start reducing your salt intake, which can help lower your blood pressure. Interested in a new diet? Check out the Mediterranean diet – it includes healthy, colorful foods and fibers.

* Move those muscles – Regular physical activity may help people maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels. According to the Surgeon General, adults should engage in moderate-intensity exercise for two hours and 30 minutes every week. Trying to avoid the gym? Activities such as gardening, swimming, bicycling and walking around your neighborhood are also good options to incorporate into your daily routine.

* Eliminate bad habits – Smoking cigarettes significantly increases your risk for heart disease. Even secondhand smoke can be hazardous to your health. If you are a smoker, talk to your physician about quitting and come up with a plan that works for you.

* Keep your blood pressure in check – High blood pressure often has no warning signs or symptoms but increases the risk for heart disease – so it’s important to have yours checked, especially if there is a family history of high blood pressure.

“By taking these simple steps, you have the ability to greatly reduce or prevent the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases,” says Dr. Michael Cobble, director of Canyons Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. “As a first step, ask your doctor about comprehensive lipid testing, such as the VAP+ Lipid Panel(R), to get an accurate understanding of your risk. It’s important to remember that CHD and other cardiovascular diseases are preventable if you take precautionary actions and begin practicing healthier lifestyle habits.”

Don’t wait until it’s too late – determine your risk for heart disease today. For more information on the VAP + Lipid Panel(R), recently featured on, visit

Personalize your health and wellness to help meet your goals

Personalize your health and wellness to help meet your goals

(BPT) – When it comes to heath and wellness, nearly 73 percent of Americans are trying to take better care of their health today than just a few years ago, yet 49 percent find that other things take priority, according to The Futures Company. However, experts say the more you customize your wellness plan for your personal needs and style, the more likely you’ll support your fitness and health goals.

Here are some tips for creating a custom plan to get fit and feel fabulous.

Stay hydrated. One of the most important aspects of healthy physical activity is proper hydration. Drinking fluids before, during and after physical activity is vital to provide your body the fluids it needs to perform properly, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Instead of bringing money for the soda machine or coffee shop, bring fresh, ice cold water or caffeine-free liquids with you in an insulated, reusable container. Need help tracking your water intake? There are water bottles and apps that can calculate and track your personal hydration needs.

Opt for healthier, whole, portable foods. Do your body a favor and hit the farmers market or head to your grocer’s produce section to stock up on apples, bananas and berries, as well as veggies like carrots and broccoli to cut up and take with you. When purchasing other snack products, look for foods made with no artificial colors, flavors, colors, sweeteners or GMO-added ingredients, and opt instead for items made with whole grains, fiber and protein.

Get proper sports nutrition. While eating healthfully is key, 90 percent of Americans don’t meet the recommended daily intake for vitamins and minerals from food consumption alone, according to a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, so sports nutrition supplements can help fill the gaps and help your body perform at its best. For example, the whole foods-based GNC PUREDGE line of products includes a protein formula for muscle health and antioxidant protection; a daily energy formula to invigorate and boost workouts; an amino acid formula to protect and fuel your body from the everyday stressors of an active lifestyle; and even a delicious protein bar for on-the-go needs – all with no artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners and preservatives. Available at GNC stores and, several of the products come in powder form that can easily be added to cold water or your favorite beverage to enjoy either daily or pre-workout in a variety of delicious flavors such as chocolate, tropical punch and cherry limeade.

Personalize your physical fitness. Functional training and small group fitness are on-trend right now. This more personalized style of training helps you customize workouts based on your current level of strength and endurance and help prevent injury versus big group, one-size-fits-all training.

Technology can help. If scheduling fitness into your day sounds impossible, try letting your phone or computer remind you to stretch or get up from your desk. Create a custom playlist to help motivate you and vary your exercises to avoid becoming bored with your workout. Or use wearable fitness technology to track your wellness goals.

Get plenty of sleep. Your body needs sufficient rest to recuperate from your day and refresh its energy for the next. So go ahead and enjoy gazing at the stars – but be sure to get to bed on time, so you’re in tip-top shape for tomorrow.