Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. While this is a frightening statistic, rest assured that heart disease is often preventable with healthy lifestyle choices.
Many of the conditions and behaviors that put people at risk for heart disease are appearing at younger ages:
High blood pressure. Having uncontrolled high blood pressure is one of the biggest risks for heart disease and other harmful conditions, such as stroke.
High blood cholesterol. High cholesterol can increase the risk for heart disease.
Smoking. Smoking damages the blood vessels and can cause heart disease.
Obesity. Carrying extra weight puts stress on the heart.
Diabetes. Diabetes causes sugar to build up in the blood. This can damage blood vessels and nerves that help control the heart muscle.
Physical inactivity. Staying physically active helps keep the heart and blood vessels healthy
Unhealthy eating patterns. Most Americans, including children, eat too much sodium (salt), which increases blood pressure. Replacing foods high in sodium with fresh fruits and vegetables can help lower blood pressure.
5 Ways to Take Control of Your Heart Health
Don’t smoke. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke there are lots of ways to quit. Look at these helps from the CDC CDC tips to quit smoking and the American Heart Foundations Heart foundation tips to quit smoking
Manage conditions. Work with your health care team to manage conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Make heart-healthy eating changes. Eat food low in trans-fat, saturated fat, added sugar and sodium.
Stay active. Get moving for at least 150 minutes per week. You can even break up the 30 minutes into 10-minute blocks. Learn more about getting active here CDC physical activity basics. Check out our group fitness classes or invest in some personal training to get a workout plan tailored specifically for you.
Learn your heart age and how to improve it. Here is a heart age calculator to get you started. https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/your-heart/know-your-risks/heart-age-calculator
You can start by choosing a risk factor or two that you’re ready to change, like smoking or high blood pressure, and focus on improving them first. Making lifestyle changes is easier when you break it up into small manageable pieces.
Partner with your doctor to make a plan for a healthier lifestyle.