Are You At Risk for Heart Disease? 7 Ways to Lower Your Risk

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the United States, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds. Each minute, more than one person in the United States dies from a heart disease-related event.

In other words, you’re more likely to die of heart related disease than you are to be attacked by a shark.


February's American Heart month may be behind us, but the Summit Area YMCA is committed to ensuring that every individual has access to improving their heart health and overall well-being.

That's why at the Y, we not only offer Financial Assistance to those with demonstrated need for memberships at the Y, we also offer the free, 12 week community program Healthy Hearts Cardiac Maintenance to all who is looking to improve or maintain their cardiovascular health, regardless of whether they have had a cardiac event.

The next Healthy Hearts Program begins April 9, 2019. 



Here are some key risk factors to understand when it comes to heart disease: 

What factors put you at risk for heart disease?

• High blood pressure

• High cholesterol

• Smoking 

• Diabetes

• Overweight and obesity

• Poor diet

• Physical inactivity

• Excessive alcohol use






For a long time, heart disease was often thought of as the "man's disease"—however, approximately the same amount of women die each year of heart disease. The reason being that women exhibit different to no symptoms when it comes to heart disease and heart attacks. See below for recommendations on how to lower your risk for heart disease.

• Know your blood pressure.

Blood pressure is the force of your blood when it flows through the arteries of the body. When you have high blood pressure, you are at a higher risk for stroke, heart disease, heart attack and kidney failure. High blood pressure is sometimes called "the silent killer" because it does not show symptoms. High blood pressure can be caused by genetics, chronic conditions, lack of physical activity, age, overweight or obesity, a diet high in salt, fat and/or cholesterol, stress and more.

• Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you should be tested for diabetes.
• Quit smoking.
• Discuss checking your cholesterol and triglycerides with your healthcare provider.
• Be mindful of what you eat

When it comes to eating healthfully, you need to be mindful of what you put on your plate and in your body. Being overweight and obese raises your risk of heart disease, so adapting a diet filled with healthy fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants and nutrients, lean proteins and healthy fats will keep your heart healthy and heart disease free.

• Limit alcohol intake to one drink a day.

Certain alcoholic drinks may contain a large amount of sugar which may contribute to weight gain and elevation of triglycerides. This enhances your risk for developing heart disease. Women shouldn't be consuming more than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day, while men should not have more than 9 teaspoons. Consuming beer, wine, or hard liquor rather than sugary cocktails can help decrease the amount of sugar intake you have in a day.

• Lower stress levels and find healthy ways to manage and cope with stress.

The Y offers a variety of Yoga and Meditation classes perfect for relaxation and escaping the stresses of every day life. If you're more active and yoga isn't for you, try any number of group fitness classes at the Y that are sure to get your cardio health in check with heart pumping, intense exercises in classes like Les Mills BodyPump, Zumba Tone, STRONG, POUND and more.




The goal of the Healthy Hearts program is to teach participants how to exercise independently so they can continue to maintain cardiovascular health. This program is a commitment to your health that will prepare you to continue a lifetime of healthy habits. We will meet twice a week to focus on cardiovascular exercise, build muscle strength and work on flexibility in a small group non-medically supervised setting.

If you are recovering from a cardiac event, completion of a phase 2 or 3 cardiac rehab program is required. This program does not replace the critical role that medically supervised cardiac rehab plays in recovery from a cardiac event. A Doctor’s release is required and the use of a fitness tracker is recommended. 

The program will be directed by Nationally certified trainers and will meet twice weekly for 12 weeks. Limit of 10 participants with 2 trainers present at each session. One session each week will utilize the cardio and strength equipment in the fitness center. The second session will be a group class that will focus on cardio exercise, strength and flexibility. There will be 4 assessments completed at the beginning and completion of the program to measure cardiovascular endurance, upper body and lower body strength and flexibility. Rate of Perceived Exertion and personal fitness trackers will be utilized to monitor participant’s exertion and heart rate.

The program will be offered at the Berkeley Heights YMCA in April 9, 2019.  


• Registration documentation

• Doctor's release documentation

• Intake interview

In addition to the Healthy Hearts program, the Summit Area YMCA offers a wide variety of cardio fitness classes to help improve your cardio health, strength and endurance — from Cardio Core, Cardio Cross Training to Extreme Cardio.



Online registration is not available for this program due to the need for Doctor's release and other documentation prior to program start.
For more information or to sign up for the Healthy Hearts program, please contact:

lisa mcquilkin




(908) 464-8373 ext. 2026



susan guber




(908) 273-3330 ext. 1164

 *Please note program sessions at the Summit YMCA may differ. Please contact Susan Guber or Member Services for more information.





Article Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

WebMD, Causes of High Blood Pressure,



About the Summit Area YMCA
The Summit Area YMCA is one of the area’s leading 501(c)3 charitable organizations. Founded in 1886, the Summit Area YMCA has a history steeped in working side-by-side with our neighbors to ensure that everyone, regardless of age, income and background, has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. Each year, we serve more than 10,000 individuals with our free and fee-based programs and services in an area spanning the communities of Berkeley Heights, New Providence, Millburn, Springfield, Short Hills, Summit, Gillette, and Stirling. Through the generosity of our members, donors, and partners, we are able to offer financial assistance for our programs and services to those with demonstrated need.