Vision 2020: A New Lens for a Healthier Future


While the wrinkles on our skin or the aches in our joints are more obvious signs of aging, their health implications are often not so serious. However, there is one organ where premature aging has real health consequences: the heart.

The average American’s heart is 7 years older than they are. One’s heart age is a good benchmark for a number of risk fac- tors that reach beyond our heart since virtually all organs and systems in our bodies depend on a healthy heart. What if mov- ing a little more, eating a little less or getting more sleep has the potential to reduce that risk?

We know around 80% of heart disease can be prevented through diet and lifestyle changes. That’s why we’re kicking off Vision 2020: A New Lens for a Healthier Future.

Throughout the year, Novant Health will guide participants through a series of challenges designed to be fun, manageable and, most importantly, sustainable. Each challenge will begin by asking participants to calculate their predicted heart age*, which they will work to lower throughout the year in order to reduce one or more risk factors that are known to have a direct impact on heart health.


MADE TO MOVE: This 12-week challenge launches in March and helps participants increase their level of physi- cal activity, no matter where they are. Participants will learn strength training exercises, fitness tips and “life hacks” to in- corporate more movement into everyday life.

SUGAR SHUTDOWN: Over the summer, we’ll help par- ticipants focus on cutting out added sugar from their diet and replacing it with healthy alternatives. The typical American diet is packed with added sugar, which clogs arteries, creates brain fog and often leads to sugar cravings. This 10-day chal- lenge is a reset for the body.

LIVE IN THE MOMENT: To wrap up Vision 2020, we’ll task everyone to live in the moment for 12 weeks with pur- poseful challenges. Being present and enjoying life’s everyday moments rather than being tied to a device directly affects your heart health by reducing stress, among many other benefits.

“Novant Health is proud to lead an initiative that empow- ers people to take charge of their health,” said Gary Niess, MD, senior physician executive of the Novant Health Heart & Vas- cular Institute. “We live busy lives, and many of us don’t think about our health until we’re sick. It’s critical that people under- stand the choices they make now have a lifetime effect on their health and wellness. This campaign not only brings awareness to the healthy habits we should prioritize, but it gives a play- book for how to incorporate them into our everyday lives.”

So, we’ll ask again. What if a few small changes in your daily routine could add years to your life? Would you make them?

Heart Healthy Recipe // For more healthy recipes, check out

Recipe By: Michelle Thomas, Novant Health


  • ·  1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ·  1 small yellow onion, diced
  • ·  2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • ·  2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ·  1 pound lean ground turkey
  • ·  Salt and pepper
  • ·  1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ·  1 24 ounce jar tomato basil sauce
  • ·  3-4 zucchini, spiralized (see directions)
  • ·  Red pepper flakes (optional)
  • ·  Fresh parsley or basil, to garnish
  • ·  Grated Parmesan cheese, to garnish
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the diced onion and carrots and cook for two to three minutes, until fragrant.
  2. Add the ground turkey and garlic. Season with salt, pepper, oregano and a pinch of red pepper flakes, if using. Cook until the meat is browned, 6 to 8 minutes.
  3. Pour the tomato sauce into the pan and stir until combined.
  4. Bring the sauce to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and let simmer. Simmer at least 15 to 20 minutes to allow the flavors to develop.
  5. While the sauce simmers, slice the ends of zucchini. Use a countertop spiralizer unit, or a handheld spiralizer to cut the zucchini into thin noodles onto a cutting board. If you don’t have a spiralizer, you can carefully use a vegetable peeler or knife to slice the zucchini into thin strips that resemble noodles. If the zucchini noodles seem watery, gently wrap a paper towel around them and squeeze out any excess moisture.
  6. Once you are ready to eat, bring the heat back up to a medium-low heat, and add the zucchini noodles into the sauce. Cook the zucchini noodles for 3 to 4 minutes, toss well into the sauce.
  7. Optional: garnish with Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes and freshly chopped herbs. Serve immediately.