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heart health

Did you know that roughly 20% of U.S. adults are not aware they have high blood pressure, which can lead to stroke and heart attack? A complete cholesterol check can also help identify a heart blockage. Meijer helps you live heart healthy with convenient health screenings. See your Meijer pharmacist for more information.

the ABCs of heart health

A = A1C

  • The hemoglobin A1C (or just "A1C") test is usually done on people who have diabetes or are at risk for diabetes (family history, overweight, etc.).
  • The A1C value provides an estimate of average blood sugar over the last 3 to 4 months. If you have diabetes, your A1C can show you if it is well controlled. If you do not have diabetes, it can tell you if your fall into the prediabetes category.
  • About 35% of U.S. adults aged 20 and older have prediabetes, and many do not know it. People with prediabetes have about a 50% increased risk for heart disease or stroke.
  • By detecting prediabetes early, you can make the changes needed to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes.
  • A normal A1C is 5.6% or less.
  • An A1C between 5.7% and 6.4% is considered prediabetes and diabetes is diagnosed at an A1C of 6.5% or above.

B = blood pressure & body mass index

  • Having good blood pressure, either naturally or controlled by medication, is very important in preventing heart attacks and many other serious health problems.
  • Ideal blood pressure for most people is less than 120/80.
  • Body mass index (BMI) is a number that looks at your height and weight.
  • Ideal BMI is between 18.5–24.9.
  • A BMI above 24.9 is considered overweight and a BMI of 30 or above is considered obese. People who are overweight or obese have a higher risk for heart disease compared with those who are within the normal BMI range.

C = cholesterol

  • Maintaining good cholesterol, particularly the LDL ("bad") cholesterol, is important for reducing heart risk. Cholesterol can harden and stick to the walls of the blood vessels, causing them to narrow. This increases the risk for clots which can lead to heart attacks.
  • The HDL ("good") cholesterol actually has protective effects and higher numbers are better.
  • Ideal HDL is greater than 40 for men and greater than 50 for women.
  • Your body makes some triglycerides. Triglycerides also come from the food you eat. Leftover calories are turned into triglycerides and stored in fat cells for later use. Other conditions and medication may affect triglycerides.
  • Ideal Triglycerides are less than 150.

Source: American Heart Association

decreasing your cholesterol

Lowering your cholesterol can improve overall heart health. Lifestyle changes can help reduce cholesterol, keep you off cholesterol-lowering medications or enhance the effect of your medications.

  • Follow a heart-healthy diet
  • Get active
  • Stop smoking
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Manage stress
  • Weight management

A healthy lifestyle is the best defense against high cholesterol. But sometimes diet and exercise aren't enough. Cholesterol medications may help:

  • Decrease your low density lipoprotein…
  • Decrease your triglycerides…
  • Increase your high density…

Your doctor may suggest a single drug or a combination of cholesterol medications. Most cholesterol medications lower cholesterol with few side effects, but effectiveness varies from person to person.

eat heart healthy foods

Making a few new choices in your diet can reduce cholesterol and improve your heart health.

  • Choose healthier fats. Leaner cuts of meat, low-fat dairy and monounsaturated fats—found in olive, peanut and canola oils—are a healthier option.
  • Eliminate trans fats. Don’t trust the label. Read the ingredients list. If it contains partially hydrogenated oil, it has trans fat.
  • Select whole grains. Choose whole-grain breads, whole wheat pasta, whole-wheat flour and brown rice.
  • Stock-up on fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are rich in dietary fiber, which can help lower cholesterol. Snack on seasonal fruits. Experiment with veggie-based casseroles, soups and stir-fries.
  • Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. They can help lower your LDL ("bad") cholesterol. Choose fish—such as salmon, mackerel and herring. Other good sources include walnuts, almonds and ground flaxseeds.
  • Help from your Meijer Pharmacy. Meijer helps you live heart healthy with convenient health screenings. 

Please consult your physician or healthcare provider for health-related issues, including changing your diet or starting an exercise routine. Information found on should never replace your physician's advice or care.