February is Heart Health Month: Blue Shield of California Offers Resources to Prioritize Heart Health All Year Long

Blue Shield's Dr. Tosha Lara-Larios shares tips for preventing and managing heart disease

OAKLAND, Calif., Feb. 8, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Each February marks Heart Health Month, which serves as an opportunity to raise awareness about heart disease and the importance of cardiovascular health. Heart disease is currently the leading cause of death in California and across the nation, and Blue Shield of California is joining the effort to encourage the adoption of heart-healthy practices throughout the year.

Dr. Tosha Lara-Larios, D.O., vice president, chief medical officer and medical director of Medical Management and Accreditation (interim) at Blue Shield of California, emphasizes the importance of prioritizing cardiovascular health through prevention tips, as well as dedicated programs available to Blue Shield members. She shares that women are at particularly high risk due to unrecognized or under recognized symptoms and risk factors.

"Whenever a woman hears the term 'heart disease,' no woman thinks that refers to them, especially if they don't have glaring risk factors," Dr. Lara-Larios said. "But it is the No. 1 killer of women. That means our wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, best friends -- the women we love most -- may not be aware."

"We should all focus on nurturing healthy hearts year-round. By incorporating small yet significant changes into daily routines, we can embrace the precious gift of heart health and strive to safeguard it every day," she added.

Tips on how to maintain your cardiovascular health from Dr. Lara-Larios:

    --  Nourish your heart with a balanced diet. Opt for a diet rich in fruits,
        vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. Limit intake
        of processed foods, saturated and trans fats, and excessive sodium.
    --  Exercise regularly. Engage in physical activity for at least 150 minutes
        a week (aim for about 20-30 minutes a day). Incorporate cardio exercises
        like walking, running, cycling or swimming to strengthen your heart.
    --  Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity is a significant risk factor for
        heart disease. Strive to achieve and maintain a healthy weight through a
        balanced diet and regular exercise.
    --  Quit smoking. Smoking damages blood vessels and increases the risk of
        heart disease, so seek support and resources to quit smoking. Blue
        Shield offers two programs, available at no additional cost to most
        members, through its Wellvolution platform: EX Program and QuitSmart
        Mindfully, offered both in English and Spanish.
    --  Manage stress. Chronic stress can impact heart health. Practice
        relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation or mindfulness to
        alleviate stress. Blue Shield offers Headspace to help with these
        practices, through its Wellvolution platform.

Heart health resources and programs for Blue Shield members:

    --  Blue Shield reading resources
        --  The ABC's of heart disease and diabetes
        --  Blue Distinction Centers for Cardiac Care
    --  Lifestyle Medicine programs
        --  Ornish Lifestyle Medicine: Treat and even reverse heart disease with
            this virtual nine-week intensive cardiac rehab program.
        --  Wellvolution: Blue Shield's on-demand digital and in-person
            lifestyle platform which offers programs to support heart-healthy
            behaviors like quitting smoking, supporting healthy eating and
            exercise, and managing stress. Available in both English and
            --  Quit smoking with EX Program and QuitSmart Mindfully
            --  Treat hypertension with Dario
            --  Reduce stress with Headspace

About Blue Shield of California

Blue Shield of California strives to create a healthcare system worthy of its family and friends that is sustainably affordable. Blue Shield of California is a tax paying, nonprofit, independent member of the Blue Shield Association with more than 4.8 million members, over 7,500 employees and more than $24 billion in annual revenue. Founded in 1939 in San Francisco and now headquartered in Oakland, Blue Shield of California and its affiliates provide health, dental, vision, Medicaid and Medicare healthcare service plans in California. The company has contributed more than $97 million to Blue Shield of California Foundation in the last three years to have an impact on California communities.

For more news about Blue Shield of California, please visit news.blueshieldca.com.

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            Mark Seelig

                                         Blue Shield of



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SOURCE Blue Shield of California