Heart Disease Prevention & Support

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At UVA Health, we offer checkups and screenings at convenient locations throughout Charlottesville and surrounding areas. We provide general cardiology care, as well as specialists who treat the most complex heart problems.

Lower Your Risk for Heart Disease

Healthy eating and exercise can help you:

  • Improve your cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Lower your blood sugar or control diabetes
  • Lose weight 

Symptoms of Heart Disease

Cardiologist Todd Villines, MD, speaks to the symptoms, prevention measures and treatment of heart disease offered by UVA’s team of specialists. View heart disease transcript.

Conditions That Can Lead to Heart Disease

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure puts stress on the heart, lungs, brain, kidneys and blood vessels. Over time, this condition can damage these organs and tissues. Blood pressure measurements are read as two numbers:

  • Systolic pressure: higher number, normal reading is 120 mmHg or less
  • Diastolic pressure: lower number, normal reading is 80 mmHg or less

High blood pressure is defined as systolic pressure greater than 140 mmHg and/or diastolic pressure greater than 90 mmHg. You're prehypertensive if your systolic blood pressure is between 120-139 mmHg or your diastolic pressure is between 80-89 mmHg.

High Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a type of lipid in the blood. There are two different types of cholesterol in your blood:

  • Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) or "bad cholesterol" cause a build-up of cholesterol and other fats in the blood vessels. High levels can cause disease in the arteries and heart disease.
  • High-density lipoproteins (HDL) or "good cholesterol" can remove cholesterol and other fats from the blood and protect against heart disease.

At UVA, our goal is to lower your LDL cholesterol levels and decrease your risk for heart disease and stroke.

High Triglycerides

Triglycerides are a form of fat in the body. High levels can result in coronary artery disease and stroke.

The National Cholesterol Education Program advises that you have your lipids checked at least once every five years, starting at age 20. You may need more frequent or earlier testing if you have a family history of hyperlipidemia or risk factors that may cause hyperlipidemia.

At UVA, we aim to provide treatment that lowers your triglyceride levels, as well as your overall risk for heart disease and stroke. 

Heart Murmur

heart murmur is a sound made by turbulent blood flow in the heart. It sounds like whooshing or swishing with each heartbeat. You can have a harmless, incidental heart murmur that's benign, or it can signal an underlying heart problem.

Benign murmurs are caused by the normal flow of blood through the heart and large vessels near the heart. The murmur may come and go over time.

Abnormal heart murmurs can be due to:

  • Structural abnormalities of the heart valves
  • Abnormal holes or connections in the structure of the heart or vessels persisting after birth
  • Endocarditis
  • Cardiac myxoma
  • Structural abnormality of the heart muscle
  • Other congenital heart conditions
  • Nutritional Changes
  • Lifestyle Changes
  • Cholesterol-Lowering Medication

Diabetes & Heart Disease

Heart disease is the number one killer of women and men in the U.S. and is the lead cause of diabetes-related disabilities and deaths.

Even if your diabetes is controlled, you’re still more at risk for:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attack
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Stroke

Diabetes thickens the lining of your blood vessels, which makes it harder for blood to pass through. It also contributes to heart disease and poor circulation. These risk factors together are known as metabolic syndrome.

Treatment for Diabetes & Heart Disease

At UVA, we’ll work with you to manage your heart disease and diabetes with:

  • An exercise plan that helps you manage your condition
  • Healthy eating tips
  • Techniques to help with stress and coping

The prevention experts at the Heart & Vascular Center can help you stop cardiovascular issues before they start.