Your heart is the most impactful organ in the body. Once your heart stops working, life is over and this can happen in a second without notice and at any age. Heart disease is not just for the elderly, it can happen to anyone at any age. It is never too early to take your health seriously and live a lifestyle that helps prevent heart disease.

There are a variety of conditions that can lead to heart disease including:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity

Lifestyle factors can also increase your risk for heart disease including:

  • Smoking
  • Lack of exercise
  • Unhealthy eating habits
    • Including processed foods, high sodium (salt) foods, lack of fruits/vegetables/whole grains

Treatment and Prevention

  • The same heart-healthy lifestyle changes that can lower your cholesterol can help prevent you from having high cholesterol in the first place. A doctor may prescribe medication when lifestyle interventions do not improve cholesterol levels.
  • Eat a heart healthy diet, which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, includes moderate consumption of healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocados or fatty fish such as salmon or tuna, and limits salt, amount of animal fat, and refined carbohydrates, including sugar.
    • Foundations is a great place to eat in the dining halls that allows you to fuel your body with an array of nutrients. You can also find salad concepts spread throughout campus. Our campus dietitian is always here to help you find options to improve your health/lifestyle.
  • Exercise on most days of the week for at least 30 minutes.
    • Find a fun activity that you enjoy to help you be more consistent.
    • Such as Zumba, playing basketball with friends, or dancing to your favorite music.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation, or not at all. Moderation means an average of 1-2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink per day for women. Drinking more may increase heart disease risk.
  • Shed extra pounds and maintain a healthy weight.
  • As far as your heart is concerned, it’s never too late to quit smoking. Your body starts to heal as soon as you smoke your last cigarette.
  • Manage chronic stress as it can sometimes increase LDL cholesterol levels and decrease HDL cholesterol levels.
    • Don’t let the stress from homework get the best of you. If you start to feel stressed take a moment and relax your mind and body. Try reading a book for a few minutes or watching some funny videos on social media.

For more information visit American Heart Association’s website at

Produced by: Elior North America