On Your Health

Check back to the INTEGRIS On Your Health blog for the latest health and wellness news for all Oklahomans.

Steps for a Healthier Heart

Nearly half of adults in the United States suffer from heart disease, and approximately 655,000 Americans die from heart disease each year. Apart from its morbidity, heart disease can significantly reduce your quality of life as you age.

A healthy heart is the foundation for a healthy life. No matter your risk factors, there are steps you can take now to reduce your risk of developing heart disease or improve your heart health if you already suffer from heart disease.

Heart disease in Oklahoma

Heart disease refers to a variety of conditions that affect the cardiovascular system, including: 

  • Coronary artery disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Arrhythmia
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Stroke
  • Congenital heart disease

Oklahoma ranks among the highest in the United States for deaths related to heart disease each year. In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in Oklahoma. This is likely linked to the nearly 35 percent of Oklahomans who struggle with obesity, which is a common cause for heart disease. The most common reasons for heart disease are high blood pressure and high cholesterol, but there are also genetic factors at play. 

Heart-healthy choices

Making heart-healthy choices starts with understanding the risk factors for heart disease. Some risk factors, such as diabetes and high cholesterol, can be genetic. However, many risk factors are determined by your lifestyle and daily habits, which means you can reduce your risk of heart disease by making daily healthy choices.

Risk factors

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Physical inactivity

By making small adjustments to your physical activity, nutrition and lifestyle habits, you can reduce your risk factors for heart disease and improve your overall health as you age.

Physical activity

You don’t have to be an athlete to have a healthy heart, but it is important to be active and maintain a healthy body weight. It’s recommended to do 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise or 15 minutes of vigorous activity at least five days per week. You could go for a walk or jog, ride your big, practice yoga, take a fitness class or play a recreational sport. Have fun with it and focus on consistency over intensity.


It’s important that your nutrition supports your heart health, but that doesn’t mean you have to follow a strict diet. Here are a few simple tips to incorporate more heart-healthy foods into your diet.

  • Reduce saturated and trans fats. These “bad fats” raise your LDL cholesterol and are typically found in animal meats, dairy products, baked goods, fried foods and processed snacks.
  • Eat fish twice per week. Fish is full of omega 3 fatty acids, which help prevent heart disease and arrhythmias.
  • Eat a balanced diet of heart-healthy foods. This includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry and lean meat.
  • Reduce salt intake. High-sodium diets are linked to high blood pressure and a higher risk for heart disease and stroke.


In addition to regular physical activity and a healthy diet, there are several lifestyle changes you can make to support a healthier heart.

  • Don’t smoke. Smoking is correlated with higher risks for developing heart disease, among other health issues
  • Reduce stress. Finding ways to manage and cope with stress can help reduce your risk of heart disease. Talk to a therapist, reduce stressors, practice yoga or meditation — find what works for you. 
  • Get enough sleep. It’s recommended that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Try going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day to ensure that you’re getting enough sleep on a regular basis.
  • Stay hydrated. Staying hydrated helps your heart pump blood more easily. Limit your alcohol intake and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated throughout the day. 


INTEGRIS Heart Hospital and INTEGRIS Cardiovascular Physicians are focused on delivering the highest quality of cardiac services in Oklahoma and beyond. To schedule an appointment with a cardiologist, talk to your primary care provider. For more healthy living tips, read our INTEGRIS Health For You blog.



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