Written by Matt Mascarenas
For most of us, heart health comes down to our lifestyle choices. However, many people still believe that heart disease only affects those older. Unfortunately, heart disease doesn’t adhere to strict age limits. That’s why it’s important to know the signs of heart disease and do all you can to live a healthier lifestyle.
Your Risk of Developing Heart Disease
Heart disease can happen at any age. Many of the conditions that lead to heart disease already affect a large portion of the American population. In fact, half of all Americans have at least one of the top three risk factors for heart disease these include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. Just take a look at the risk factors:
• High Blood Pressure: Having uncontrolled blood pressure is one of the most significant risks for developing heart disease. According to the American Heart Association (AHA) American Heart Association (AHA), high blood pressure puts an excessive amount of pressure on the heart which causes the coronary arteries serving the heart to slowly become narrowed from a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances. This build-up leads to heart failure, heart disease, strokes, and other severe heart conditions.
• High Cholesterol: When your body has unusually high cholesterol levels, it’s at a higher risk of developing heart diseases. High cholesterol is typically caused by unhealthy habits including physical inactivity, eating unhealthy foods, smoking, and obesity.
• Smoking: Smokers are nearly twice as likely to develop heart disease compared with people who have never smoked. Smoking causes damage to your heart, lungs, and other arteries, according to the British Heart Foundation.
• Genetics: Cardiovascular diseases are the number one killer of women, yet fewer than 20% of women consider heart disease or stroke to be the greatest health problem they face. A few of the reasons women are at higher risk include breast cancer treatments, pregnancy conditions, and mental stress levels.
• High Levels of Stress: When your body undergoes severe amounts of stress, it contributes to many conditions including high blood pressure, ulcers, and irritable bowel syndrome. While more research is needed to find the direct link between stress and heart disease, it’s recommended to manage stress to promote overall heart health.
Other factors that contribute to heart disease include:
• Physical Inactivity
• Unhealthy Eating
How to Be Heart Healthy
Healthy living can significantly reduce your chances of developing heart disease now and later on in life. Here are our top 4 ways you can improve your heart health.
1. Get Active
Physical inactivity can have tremendous repercussions on your body. Everything from heart health to mental health is affected by the amount of exercise you put into your body every day. The Centers for Disease Control explains, “Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health.” So, what are you waiting for? Get up and get moving.
2. Lose Excess Weight
An unhealthy amount of fat, especially belly fat, in your body can put you at a higher risk of developing heart disease. Being overweight is linked to several major risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and severe forms of cholesterol. Combat this by losing excess weight by eating healthy and exercising regularly.
3. Eat Healthily
As two of the top three risk factors of heart disease are directly related to food intake, it’s essential you eat healthy, as well. Most people with high cholesterol and high blood pressure can lower their levels by following a healthy diet. This includes eating five servings of fruits, four servings of vegetables, avoid foods made from unhealthy fats, limit consumption of alcohol and sodium, and exercise daily.
4. Stop Smoking
Smoking is one of the top three heart disease risk factors. That’s why it’s important for your heart health and overall lifestyle that you stop smoking. Moreover, research all proves that when you smoke, the people around you, especially children, are also at risk of developing serious health problems.
About Matt Mascarenas
Matt is a writer and a part of the Tanner Clinic team. He covers a wide range of health topics and is always discovering new ways to promote living a healthy lifestyle. When he’s not writing, you can find him in the mountains no matter the season.