Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for almost a quarter of deaths every year. Half of all Americans have at least one of the key risk factors for developing heart disease including high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels and smoking. The good news is these risk factors are preventable with early action and controllable with dedicated care.
- High Blood Pressure: One of the most serious risk factors, high blood pressure means the pressure of the blood in your arteries and other blood vessels is too high. There are very few symptoms associated, giving high blood pressure the nickname, the “silent killer.” The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to frequently measure using a blood pressure cuff. High blood pressure can be prevented and even reversed with lifestyle changes or medicine.
- High Cholesterol: Cholesterol is a substance made by your liver and is also in many foods we eat, such as eggs, cheese and butter. When your body has an excess of cholesterol, plaque builds up in your arteries leading to a decrease in blood flow to the heart, brain and kidneys. High cholesterol can be prevented and lowered with healthy eating, exercise and medication.
- Smoking: Tobacco use dramatically increases the risk of heart disease. Smoking damages the heart and blood vessels, and nicotine increases blood pressure. Quitting smoking can be very difficult, but with a strong medical support system, it is possible. After quitting, heart health improvements are almost immediate.
The fact that these three key risk factors for heart disease are preventable, yet still 50% of Americans have at least one, underscores a health system that was not designed for prevention. With top-rated doctors and advanced technology, Forward is designed to identify risks and provide the care to treat and prevent chronic conditions, like heart disease. Every feature is backed with the philosophy that with the right tools, chronic diseases can not only be managed but prevented.
Steps to Prevent Heart Disease
- Have a preventive mindset: This may seem obvious, but this is not the approach most people or health systems take. Instead of waiting for heart disease to happen and then treating the disease, change your goal to prevent heart disease from developing. Prevention is at the core of Forward’s philosophy, and we work with members to create personalized exercise and nutrition programs that are focused on heart health.
- Know your complete health picture: The factors that lead to heart disease are pervasive in many aspects of health and should be looked at in conjunction with one another. At Forward, your journey starts with the Baseline Visit where we’ll complete comprehensive, real-time blood testing, review your medical history, lifestyle and lab results, and build a preventive plan for your future. Right from the start, your doctor will have your blood pressure reading, cholesterol levels, and with the context of your lifestyle habits and family history, will put together a personalized plan that makes sense for you.
- Understand your genetics: Your genetic blueprint is a vital tool to understand your predisposition and increased risk for heart disease. Advancements in genetics can now pinpoint specific DNA segments that are associated with increased risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, lipid metabolism, or propensity for obesity. Genetic testing is included in Forward membership and allows your doctor to further personalize your plans, based on your individual health insights and genetics.
- Take a data-driven approach: Data is crucial to understanding what preventive actions are working for you. The more frequently you can take blood pressure and cholesterol readings, the better equipped you are to make evidence-based decisions to improve your health. At Forward, we use remote monitoring to empower you and your doctor. Sensors like a blood pressure cuff puts you in control of your heart health. Every reading can be viewed by your doctor, so they can proactively check-in and provide recommendations — exercise modifications, nutrition changes and medications — to you anytime, anywhere.
- Create an ongoing relationship with your doctor: A supportive health team can be the difference between success in your health goals or not. Find a doctor that takes the time to understand your lifestyle and is available for any questions or difficulties that come up.To ensure you’re in control of your health, your Forward membership features unlimited access to the care team. Never hesitate about coming in for a cholesterol check or put off a pressing question. Your goals are our goals, and we work with you every step of the way, whether it’s to help you quit smoking or to find an exercise routine that you actually enjoy.
Forward’s Healthy Heart Program can help you reduce your risk of heart disease with biological, genetic, and environmental risk assessments, heart health education, and ongoing monitoring of your heart rate and blood pressure.