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Figure Skater Peggy Fleming Teams with HealthSaver: Heart Healthy Living

NORWALK, Conn., Oct. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Cardiovascular disease accounts for 40 percent of all deaths in the United States, more than all forms of cancer combined. The best way to avoid cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease -- the leading cause of death in America -- is to maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly and avoid smoking.

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"The higher your blood pressure, the higher your risk of heart disease," said Peggy Fleming, Olympic figure skating champion and HealthSaver spokesperson.

A healthy diet will keep high blood pressure at bay and help prevent a life-threatening stroke. Smoking raises the risk of many such heart conditions, but breaking the habit can lead you back to health.

"Schedule regular check-ups with your physician to discuss personal risk factors and identify complications that may cause heart problems," said Brad Eggleston, vice president of HealthSaver.

Take control of your health to help sustain a healthy heart now and for years to come.

Lower Blood Pressure

-- High blood pressure increases the force of blood flowing through your

arteries, leaving artery walls damaged. Your heart then must work

harder to pump the oxygen and nutrients your body requires, leaving

you more susceptible to heart attacks, strokes and congestive heart

failure. While the risk of high blood pressure increases with age and

a family history of the disease, you do have control over your weight

and dietary salt intake, two other major risk factors.

-- The fatty tissue gained with excess weight also requires oxygen and

nutrients, causing an increase in blood pressure that can lead to a

two to three times higher risk of heart failure. Decrease your risk by

eating less salt and sodium.

-- Nearly one in three American adults has high blood pressure, yet only

68 percent are aware of their condition. High blood pressure has no

specific symptoms, so it's especially important to stay proactive with

a blood pressure test every two years. Normal blood pressure is

approximately 120/80 mm Hg. People with a blood pressure higher than

140/90 mm Hg include 69 percent of those who have survived a first

heart attack and 77 percent of those who have suffered an initial


Cholesterol and Your Heart

-- Your body develops enough cholesterol on its own. When an unhealthy

diet and sedentary lifestyle cause an increase in cholesterol levels,

fatty deposits form within blood vessels, making it difficult for blood

to flow properly. If a blood vessel ruptures or becomes blocked, the

brain cannot receive necessary oxygen, resulting in a stroke.

-- The most important dietary change to lower your cholesterol is to limit

the amount of saturated and trans fat that you consume. Swap cookies

for cantaloupe, fried chicken for baked chicken and butter for olive

oil. Your diet should include foods rich in fiber, such as citrus

fruits, beans, broccoli and whole grains.

-- Like high blood pressure, high cholesterol also has no symptoms. A

Lipoprotein Profile blood test every five years will alert you of any

problems. A healthy diet will help keep your cholesterol levels below

200 mg/dL, though your physician may prescribe medications if proper

diet adjustments do not render results.

Break the Habit

-- Cigarette smokers are six times more likely to suffer a heart attack

and two times more likely to suffer a stroke than nonsmokers. The

nicotine and carbon dioxide in cigarettes reduces the oxygen in your

blood and causes plaque to form within artery walls, increasing the

risk for blood clots. Smoking also increases the risk of high blood

pressure, stroke and heart disease.

-- The good news is that once you quit, the risk of heart disease

automatically drops. Eventually the risk is the same as if you'd never

smoked. The risk of stroke reaches this level after approximately five

years of breaking the habit.

High Risk Requires Action

-- Diabetics have a higher risk of heart disease, so it's especially

important to control the high blood sugar levels that can damage blood

vessels and lead to stroke and heart attack. If you suffer from

diabetes, take extra care to control your weight and adopt a healthy

lifestyle that includes nutrient-rich foods and plenty of exercise. A

test for diagnostic diabetes every three years will help monitor

glucose levels.

-- The leading cause of the most common form of diabetes is excess weight.

Nearly two-thirds of American adults are overweight. Sustaining a

healthy weight is vital to your heart's health because with the extra

pounds also comes an increased risk of heart failure, high cholesterol,

high blood pressure and stroke. Luckily, shedding even seven pounds

can lower cholesterol levels. To sustain a healthy weight, it's

imperative to pair a well-balanced diet with regular physical activity.

Aim for 30 minutes of exercise per day.

A healthy body requires a healthy heart. To keep this vital organ functioning properly you must avoid harmful habits such as smoking, and adopt a nutritious diet and exercise regimen. Your heart and overall health depend on it.

HealthSaver, an emerging health care discount program, offers savings on prescriptions, vision care, complementary and alternative health care treatments, vitamins and supplements by mail and more than 1,500 fitness clubs nationwide, including select Bally Total Fitness, World Gym and Ladies Workout Express locations.

About HealthSaver

HealthSaver offers discounts of 20 percent on vision care, as well as discounts of 10 to 50 percent on prescriptions at participating pharmacies, 20 percent off complementary and alternative health care treatments and fitness club benefits. HealthSaver also offers discounts of 10 to 35 percent on dental care services at some 42,000 participating provider locations nationwide, including routine cleanings, X-rays, fillings, orthodontics, and even popular cosmetic dentistry procedures such as teeth whitening. Members can also save from 5 to 50 percent off vitamins and supplements by mail. Discounts are based upon reasonable and customary costs or manufacturers suggested retail price (MSRP) and are only available from participating providers. HealthSaver is not an insurance product or service. More information about HealthSaver is available online at or toll free by calling 1-800-7HEALTH (1-800-743-2584). HealthSaver is offered by Affinion Group, a leader in the membership, insurance and loyalty marketing businesses, providing products and services that touch the lives of millions of Americans.

About Affinion Group

As a global leader with nearly 35 years of experience, Affinion Group ( enhances the value of its partners' customer relationships by developing and marketing valuable loyalty, membership, checking account, insurance and other compelling products and services. Leveraging its expertise in product development and targeted marketing, Affinion helps generate significant incremental revenue for more than 5,200 affinity partners worldwide, including many of the largest and most respected companies in financial services, retail, travel, and Internet commerce. Based in Norwalk, Conn., the company has approximately 3,000 employees throughout the United States and in 14 countries across Europe.

SOURCE HealthSaver
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