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Your Heart Health Starts Today!

Your heart is an important part of you. It is a vital organ. Less scientifically, your heart is also where your kindness, generosity, and hope come from. It’s where you store your important relationships. Your heart is a crucial thing to protect!

Heart Disease Facts

Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. About 20.5 million U.S. adults have coronary artery disease (CAD), making it the most common type of heart disease in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Thankfully, there are many actions you can take to protect your heart.

The cause of coronary heart disease varies. Coronary artery disease is often caused by cholesterol, a waxy substance that builds up inside the lining of the coronary arteries, forming plaque. This plaque buildup can partially or totally block blood flow in the large arteries of the heart.

Angina, or chest pain and discomfort, is the most common symptom of CAD. Angina can happen when too much plaque builds up inside arteries, causing them to narrow. Narrowed arteries can cause chest pain because they can block blood flow to your heart muscle and the rest of your body.

Am I at risk of heart disease?

High blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease. About half of people in the United States (47%) have at least one of these risk factors. Several other medical conditions and lifestyle choices can also put people at a higher risk for heart disease.

  • Diabetes
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Excessive alcohol use

How you can lower your risk for heart disease

Living a healthy lifestyle, getting regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, and lowering your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels will all reduce your risk of developing heart disease.

Making healthy changes can feel daunting, but you don’t need to change everything at once. Start with a step that is easy for you. Focus on walking more often. Try to eat one more serving of fruits or vegetables every day for a week. Cut back on sweet treats. By starting small and building up healthy habits over time, you can change your lifestyle in a way that you can keep up with.

Improving and maintaining cardiovascular health can help you enjoy a longer, healthier life. Better cardiovascular health also has been associated with decreased risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, dementia, and other major health problems.

Reference: “American Heart Associations – Life’s Essential 8™”

Life’s Essential 8 are eight steps everyone should take to achieve ideal cardiovascular health.

  1. Eat Better
  2. Be More Active
  3. Quit Tobacco
  4. Get Healthy Sleep
  5. Manage Weight
  6. Control Cholesterol
  7. Manage Blood Sugar
  8. Manage Blood Pressure

My Life Check™ is a health and well-being assessment that is based on the science of Life’s Essential 8™. Learn more about Life’s Essential 8™ and take the assessment at: heart.org/MyLifeCheck.


Mushroom Ragout with Herbed Ricotta & Pappardelle




  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-pound mixed mushrooms, such as shitake, oyster and/or cremini, trimmed and halved
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated, divided
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper, divided
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 (15 ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
  • ½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh herbs, such as tarragon and parsley
  • 8 ounces pappardelle pasta, preferably whole-wheat.


  1. Put a large pot of water on to boil.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring once, until browned, about 4 minutes. Add onion, two-thirds of the garlic and thyme; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add tomato paste, salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in wine and tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine ricotta, herbs, the remaining garlic and ¼ teaspoon pepper in a small bowl.
  4. Cook pasta in the boiling water according to package directions. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the pasta directly to the skillet, allowing some of the pasta-cooking water to drip into the pan. Cook, stirring, until the pasta is coated with the sauce, about 1 minute. Serve the pasta topped with the ricotta mixture and more herbs, if desired.

Reference:  Eating Well Magazine, May 2021

Nutrition Facts:  Per serving:  Serving Size 1½ cups. 432 Calories, Total Fat 15g; Saturated Fat 3g; Cholesterol 40mg; Sodium 503mg, Carbohydrate 56g, Fiber 5g, Protein 16g.