Your Risk of Heart and Vascular Disease
Factors You Can Change
Smoking/Tobacco Use Smoking makes your blood clot easier and causes arteries to tighten
which makes your heart work harder and can damage your blood
vessels. Do not use tobacco products and avoid second-hand
To lower your risk of heart disease and stroke, your top number
(systolic) should be less than 140 mmHg and the bottom number
(diastolic) should be less than 90 mmHg. When you check at home,
we would like to see numbers about 135/85 mmHg or lower. Your
doctor may want your blood pressure numbers lower than 140/90
and will talk with you about treatment goal.
Cholesterol (lipid) levels
Total _____ mg/dL
Triglycerides “fat” _____ mg/dL
HDL “good” _____ mg/dL
LDL “bad” _____ mg/dL
High cholesterol can cause faster build-up of blockages in the heart,
neck, and leg arteries. If you have diabetes mellitus (high blood
sugar), heart disease or are at high risk for developing heart disease,
guidelines suggest using statins or other cholesterol medicines to
lower your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol by at least 50% (typically to
<100 mg/dl). Keep your triglycerides (fats) less than 150 and HDL
(“good”) cholesterol more than 40 (men) or 50 (women).
Weight: BMI _____ Extra weight makes your heart work harder and can lead to high
blood pressure, diabetes, and heart failure. Your Body Mass Index
(BMI), which is determined by your height and weight, should be in
the range of 18.5 – 25 kg/m2 range.
Job or family stress Stress can make your heart work harder. It is important to manage
your stress and ask for help if needed.
Your A1C result _______ %
Uncontrolled diabetes increases your risk of heart disease,
blindness, kidney failure, and nerve pain. If you have diabetes and
heart disease, your hemoglobin A1C goal is usually 7.0-7.5% or
less. Depending on your age and risk of low blood sugar, your
doctor will set the best goal for you.
Hemoglobin A1C of 5.7-6.4% means you have pre-diabetes.
Hemoglobin A1C of 6.5% or more means you have diabetes.
Sedentary lifestyle Regular exercise lowers your risk. Try to exercise at least 2.5 hours
Factors You Cannot Change
Age Your risk of heart disease increases as you get older.
Family history Even though you cannot change your genetic makeup, you can
lower your risk by making healthy choices.
How You Can Lower the Risk
ξ Smoking: Quit now! You will see benefits
right away. There are many resources to
help you. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-
784-8669) for more information.
ξ High Blood Pressure:
Take your medicines as ordered.
Lower your salt, caffeine and alcohol
Get regular exercise.
If you snore or have sleep apnea, talk to
your primary care doctor.
ξ High Blood Lipids:
Take your medicines as ordered.
Lower the amount of saturated and
trans-fats, simple carbohydrates and
sugar you eat.
Eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables,
nuts and whole grains.
Lose weight and get regular exercise.
Talk with your doctor about how often
you should get your cholesterol
Lower the amount of calories, sugar,
saturated and trans-fat that you eat.
Increase your daily activity.
Read nutrition labels. Think about
meeting with a dietician.
Manage your stress.
Learn about ways you can relax and
manage your time.
Talk with others about your feelings.
ξ Diabetes: People with diabetes should eat
healthy and get daily exercise. This can
help your body to use insulin better to
lower your blood sugar levels.
ξ Inactive Lifestyle:
Begin an exercise program.
Walk more. (Use the stairs, park in the
farthest space from the store).
Make healthy choices.
Need Cardiac Rehab? Yes Your local cardiac rehab program is: ___________________
If you have had a recent heart attack, bypass, valve or transplant surgery, angioplasty/stent or
congestive heart failure, it is important for you to participate in cardiac rehab. Being active in cardiac
rehab has been shown to greatly lower your risk of future heart problems and will help you heal. The
program includes exercise and education to help you manage your heart and vascular disease risk
factors. If you have any questions or concerns, please call us at:
UW Health Preventive Cardiology/Cardiac Rehab
(608) 263-6630 (between 8:00 am and 4:30 pm)
Need Cardiac Rehab? No
If you have questions or concerns, please call your Primary Care Clinic at ___________________.
The Spanish version of this Health Facts for You is #7739
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you have any
questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This is not medical
advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each person’s health needs are
different, you should talk with your doctor 5/2017 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved.
Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF #5817