Healthy Living
and Prevention

Alaska Heart & Vascular Institute is a major sponsor of the American Heart Associations’ (AHA) Healthy for Good movement. Healthy for Good is a campaign dedicated to whole-body health and wellness. The approach is simple: Eat smart. Add color. Move more. Be well. The goal is to encourage people to make lasting lifestyle changes. At AHVI, we take this to heart (pun intended); we have our own internal health initiatives to inspire staff and patients alike for a happier, healthier community.
Grilled salmon on a bed of lettuce and rice

Eat Smart

AHA offers great recipes and nutritional information in an easy-to-navigate environment for you to take advantage of. Diet changes can be daunting. In order to create lasting change, start with small adjustments to your current diet to work your way to a heart-healthy diet. AHA recommends beginning with portion control and cutting out excess sugar. Start with this: limit the amount of sweets you eat, check nutrition labels on packaging, choose simple foods over processed products, rinse canned fruits if they’re in syrup.
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Add Color

Simply add more colors to your meals by incorporating a variety of fruits and vegetables with every meal and snack. Trade baby carrots and sugar snap peas for potato chips and try fresh fruit smoothies instead of sodas- every little bit helps and puts you one step closer to whole-body health!
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Move More

Walking is the best way to immediately add more physical activity to your schedule. AHA says to aim for a total of 150 minutes of activity each week. Physical activity is anything that gets your heart beating-walking, running, lifting weights, playing sports, riding your bicycle-make movement an important and necessary part of your schedule and your body will thank you. The benefits of regular activity include increased energy levels, reduced stress, weight loss, and reduced risk of heart disease.
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Be Well

Whole-body health and wellness includes a healthy mind. The effects of stress are real and can lead to physical symptoms and health issues. Fight stress by slowing down and prioritizing the tasks at hand. Getting organized can greatly reduce stress and allow you to think clearly. Additionally, getting enough sleep plays a major role in our overall mental and physical health; most of us need 6-8 hours each night. Develop a bedtime routine to establish a schedule and get on track. Other key pieces to the wellness puzzle include being social and laughing with friends and family, kicking bad habits (i.e. smoking, excess alcohol and caffeine intake), and regular physical activity.
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Lifestyle Choices

Did you know that people who work in stressful jobs are more likely to have hypertension? We’ve previously discussed how high blood pressure and hypertension can have a negative affect on our circulatory system. This week, we’re diving into how you can prevent several factors that can cause hypertension and high blood pressure. says that there are several factors that we can’t control such as age, family history or ethnic disposition. However we can control our lifestyle choices, which also have a huge impact on our blood pressure. offers these suggestions:

  1. Maintain a healthy weight – Carrying excess weight can raise your blood pressure. With the holidays fast approaching, starting a workout regimen could help keep those holiday bonus pounds off.
  2. Balance your diet – Eating well can keep extra weight off. Consume potassium-rich fruits and veggies in addition to limiting your sugar, salt and fat intake. Alcohol consumption is another factor in high blood pressure due to high fructose content.
  3. Reduce sodium intake – Reducing the amount of sodium in your diet can also help lower blood pressure. Also note that while processed and prepackaged meals make quick dinners, they tend to be higher in sodium.
  4. Exercise regularly – Regular exercise is imperative to a healthy lifestyle and cardiovascular system. It helps us use up the sodium and sugar we eat, as well as keep off excess weight.

We hope these four tips will help you avoid the negative impacts of hypertension and high blood pressure.

Trail Tips

Staying active is vital to leading a heart-healthy lifestyle. But did you know that exercise is important for more than just our hearts? The veins and arteries that make up our cardiovascular system also need exercise to help them stay strong.

We are lucky in Anchorage to have many trails with amazing views. Don’t use the weather as an excuse. If it’s cold outside, bundle up and move faster. Here are some of our favorite trails.

  • Chester Creek Trail – This 4-mile route snakes through Anchorage’s greenbelt and around Westchester Lagoon before returning to Russian Jack Park.
  • Campbell Creek Trail – This South Anchorage trail shadows the lazy water of Campbell Creek for 7.5-miles, past local hotspots the Peanut Farm and Arctic Roadrunner.
  • Ship Creek Trail – This short, 2.6-mile jaunt follows Ship Creek past the Alaska Railroad depot and runs into the Glenn Highway bike path.
  • Tony Knowles Coastal Trail – This trail follows the water from Anchorage to Kincaid Park and offers spectacular views of Anchorage and the Chugach Mountains.
Close up of a shoe as a group walks in the woods

7 Easy Tips for
Improved Circulation

Fact or fiction: sitting with your legs crossed is harmful to the health of your heart and veins. While many believe this statement to be true, Medical Daily recently busted this myth, stating that your posture and extended sitting are actually the culprits not crossing your legs.

Studies show that, in addition to stretching regularly throughout the workday, good posture and walking can help improve circulation and have lasting benefits for the health of your entire body. offers seven easy tips for improving circulation when sitting for prolonged periods of time, including:

  1. Purchase an ergonomic chair or a comfortable chair with padding.
  2. Sit with your back in a straight position. Do not slouch.
  3. Place your feet flat on the floor or use a footrest if your chair is too high.
  4. Sit on a pillow if your chair is too low, or adjust your chair to the appropriate height.
  5. Take a break and walk around the office at least once every hour.
  6. Use padded armrests on your desk.
  7. Cross and uncross your legs to redistribute pressure and encourage blood flow.

The American Heart Association (AHA) states that sitting for prolonged periods of time is one of the biggest factors contributing to heart disease and obesity. While these seven tips will help improve circulation while sitting, the best advice we can offer is to get up and get walking as often as possible. According to AHA, walking can lower your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes as much as running can. If your work requires you to sit for long periods of time, incorporate these tips into your daily routine and make time for short walks. 

Heart-Healthy Lifestyle
Means Reducing Sugar Intake

Sugar is one of those ingredients that seems nearly impossible to avoid. It’s in everything from the bread in your pantry to the turkey in your fridge. Studies show that the consumption of sugar has gone up exponentially since the early 1900s, which many vascular physicians believe is a main factor in increased venous issues.

According to an article by, circulation issues such as varicose veins are linked to increased levels of insulin in our bodies. Sugar is one culprit for increased insulin levels and often results in undue pressure on the body and veins. If your body does a poor job of absorbing this excess insulin, it can lead to chronic inflammatory states that damage blood vessel walls and ultimately lead to varicose veins.

A great way to fight potential varicose veins is to lead a heart-healthy lifestyle and reduce the amount of sugar you put in your body. Increasing exercise, as well as the amount of vegetables, healthy fats and organic protein in your diet are all great ways to do this.