Heart Health

Woman sitting in yoga class in front of other women stretching in the background

Your heart health is affected by more than just blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar levels. Whether you have an existing condition or just want to prevent future issues, learn simple ways to improve your diet, add small amounts of activity, and change habits to keep your heart in peak condition.

Care Alert

CU Thrive: Heart Health Month

On February 27, Columbia University's Office of Human Resources-Benefits hosted the inaugural CU Thrive event focused on Heart Health. Click here to watch the session.

Protect your heart

Nearly 1 in 2 U.S. adults have high blood pressure. Regularly monitoring your blood pressure, with support from your health care team, can help lower your risk for heart disease and stroke. Check your blood pressure:

  • By a health care team member at a doctor's office
  • At a pharmacy that has a digital blood pressure measurement machine
  • With a home blood pressure monitor* that you can use yourself
    • Check when you wake up (before eating or taking any medication is best)
    • Check before you go to sleep at night
    • Take two or three readings to ensure accurate results

*Blood pressure monitors are FSA and HSA eligible

Free Blood Pressure Checks

Many pharmacies offer free blood pressure checks, find a participating pharmacy near you:

  1. Visit the NYC HealthMap website
  2. Call your local pharmacy

Do you know your numbers? From blood pressure, glucose or cholesterol – when was the last time you got checked?

  • Keep a record of your numbers from a blood test, from your annual preventative check-up with your primary care provider (PCP).
  • You can request your results from your PCP, health care team, or lab that completed the test.
How Important is a PCP?

You get personalized engagement and care – your PCP gets to know YOU! As they keep your annual records, they see the trends with indicators of your heart health with your numbers. 

Don’t have a Primary Care Provider (PCP)?

Finding one is simpler with the resources below:

ColumbiaDoctors: To find a Columbia Primary Care Provider, visit ColumbiaDoctors Primary Care

UnitedHealthcare: Find a network provider by calling 1-800-232-9357 or visiting myuhc.com

CUIMC: The Hypertension Center: Visit the website

See what CUIMC experts have to say: Get Heart Healthy with These Tips

What I Eat Affects My Heart?

Nutrition is a significant risk factor for heart disease. Food-related risk factors include obesity, high blood pressure, uncontrolled diabetes, and a diet high in saturated fats. Work with a registered dietician to assess your nutritional needs for you and your family. A registered dietician (RD) can:

  • Perform nutritional diet assessments
  • Give dietary advice based on your needs, food preferences, and health conditions
  • Create individualized meal and nutrition plans
  • Recommend nutritional supplements
  • Provide you with nutrition resources and educational materials
  • Monitor your progress

Use your UnitedHealthcare insurance and work one-on-one with a dietitian for a nutritional analysis and guidance on preparing healthy meals to enjoy.

  • Find a Registered Dietician by calling 1-800-232-9357 or visiting myuhc.com
Wellness Coaching

Wellness Coaching is a healthy lifestyle program available to Columbia University medical plan participants and dependents at no additional cost.  Work with a wellness coach over the phone and with additional web-based support to help you eat better, move more, and lose weight.   

To learn more or to enroll, call United Healthcare at 800-232-9357 or visit Optum Wellness Coaching.

Adding activity to your day that increases your heart rate can help lower your risk of heart disease. The heart-healthy recommendation* is to get 150 minutes weekly of moderating intensity activity or 75 minutes weekly of vigorous activity.

*See the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans here: https://health.gov/our-work/nutrition-physical-activity/physical-activity-guidelines

Use this chart to break down your physical activity time to 10 minutes
(30 minutes a day, most days of the week)

Quick tips for activity to raise your heart rate

  • Take the stairs (at work, at home, whenever you can)
  • Park further away or get off the subway or bus a block or two earlier to your destination
  • Make it a family affair – running around chasing your pets or kids offers some heart pumping activity that’s fun
  • Take an extra lap around the store or mall
  • Multi-task while watching TV (squats, push-ups, stretches!)
  • Stand up at your work desk (or move to a countertop)

Look no further! Columbia offers a variety of options to keep you engaged in physical activity – whether you are on-site, traveling, at home, or virtual options.  

One Pass Select: Try different gyms and fitness classes at a discount through One Pass™ to find a routine that fits your lifestyle. Get started at OnePassSelect.com.

On-site location information: Dodge Fitness Center & 50 Haven Athletic Center.

You can contact someone at the Employee Assistance Program at any time – six sessions per topic, with a licensed professional offering confidential guidance and counseling.

If you need additional help with diet and nutrition, exercise and fitness, or sleep concerning your heart health – call a CareNow Counselor at 1-844-636-1260 to get started.

Learn more at TELUS One Health
(username: Columbia, password: eap)

Columbia University offers resources to support your everyday needs and life events for you and your family.