heart-2211180_1920If you exercise, eat right, and follow other heart-friendly habits, you’re probably less likely to end up in the hospital with a heart problem, which translates to lower healthcare costs, opens a recent article published by Harvard Health Publications, a blog produced by Harvard Medical School.

The average hospital charge for a heart operation or related procedure is about $85,000, according to the article, which references a  February 2017 study in the Journal of the American Heart Association. The study looked at 6,200 Medicare claims for people over age 65. Healthcare costs were about $5,000 less per year in people with the most heart-healthy factors compared with those with the least number of factors. If all Medicare beneficiaries followed five of seven key heart-healthy habits to reduce cardiovascular disease, it would save more than $41 billion a year in Medicare costs, the study authors estimated.

The article called for preventative medicine to avoid heart disease. Research suggests that about 70 percent of all heart disease could be prevented if people addressed their underlying risk factors. The study suggest individuals take stock of “life’s simple seven”—manage blood pressure, control cholesterol, reduce blood sugar, get active, eat, lose weight, and stop smoking.

As far as quitting smoking, Americans are on the right track. Among adults, rates of this heart-damaging habit have plummeted from 42 percent in 1965 down to 15 percent today.When it comes to physical activity, however, there’s room for improvement. Nearly a quarter of adults are inactive. Being active has the added advantage of helping you address four more of the seven habits: losing weight, reducing blood sugar, managing blood pressure, and controlling cholesterol levels. Exercise also helps relieve stress — another critical yet underappreciated risk factor for heart disease.

Emotional stress from work, family, or financial issues is common and often unavoidable. But low-cost (or free) strategies such as exercise, meditation, and practicing mindfulness can help people to better manage their stress.

While preventative efforts are the bread and butter of integrative medicine, a positive can be drawn from the mainstream awareness by a top-tier source of incorporating complementary techniques into patient care.