Open Accessibility Menu

Essential 8

The American Heart Association recommends “Life’s Essential 8:”

Discover the Essential 8, a vital roadmap recommended by the American Heart Association for achieving optimal heart health and overall well-being. This comprehensive guide encompasses crucial practices such as managing blood pressure within healthy ranges, controlling cholesterol levels, quitting smoking, and regulating blood sugar for a balanced lifestyle. Explore the benefits of making informed dietary choices, engaging in regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, and prioritizing restful sleep to minimize the risk of heart disease and related complications. At the Stead Heart and Vascular Center, our commitment lies in providing accessible education and empowering individuals with the knowledge necessary to lead heart-healthy lives. Join us in embracing the Essential 8 principles and safeguarding your cardiovascular wellness.

  • Manage Blood Pressure: The American Heart Association defines normal blood pressure as 120/80 and "elevated blood pressure" as 120-129/80. "High blood pressure" is considered 130-139/80-90.
  • Control Cholesterol: LDL is the "bad" cholesterol that contributes to fatty buildups in arteries (atherosclerosis). HDL or "good" cholesterol in healthy levels can protect against heart attack and stroke. Triglycerides are the most common type of fat in the body. Triglycerides store excess energy from the food we eat.
  • Stop Smoking: one of the most important ways to improve health is to quit smoking. Proven, successful strategies to help smokers quit include education about the impact of smoking, how best to manage urges, how to handle stress through exercise and making a personal plan to quit.
  • Reduce Blood Sugar: Managing a healthy glucose level is essential. Keeping fasting glucose levels less than 100 mg/dl is the key. Fasting glucose levels 100 -125 mg/dl are indicative of prediabetes and levels of 126 mg/dl or greater is considered Type 2 Diabetes.
  • Eat Better: Making smart choices to build a healthy dietary plan is the first step. A balanced daily diet includes: 5 servings (2.5 cups) of vegetables, 4 servings (2 cups) of fruits, 6 servings (6 ounces) of grains, 3 servings (3 cups) of low-fat dairy, 2 servings (5.5 ounces) of protein; fish, skinless poultry, lean meat, eggs, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes and finally 3 tablespoons of mono or polyunsaturated fats. Reading labels and avoiding fatty or processed meats, sugary drinks and sweets will also support and maintain a healthy eating plan.
  • Get Active: The AHA recommends adults participate in 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity daily. Muscle strengthening activity is also important, at least 2 days/week. Teenagers and children should also be active, getting at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Walking is the easiest way to get started.
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Know your Body Mass Index (BMI) and work to stay in a healthy range.
  • Get Plenty of Sleep: Studies show that adults who get between 7-9 hours of sleep each night significantly reduce their risk of heart disease. Sleep hygiene is essential to a healthy night’s sleep. Consider adopting strategies that improve your sleep such as increased physical activity throughout the day, improved diet and reduced stress levels. Reducing the use of electronic devices at bedtime may also help.

The Stead Heart and Vascular Center is committed to improving the lives of cardiovascular patients in our community. If you have signs or symptoms of a heart attack, call 9-1-1 and seek medical attention immediately. Our Hospital and clinical team are prepared and committed to providing a safe environment to treat the needs of patients suffering from the symptoms of a heart attack.