Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Although it is more likely to affect people over 65 years old, heart problems can strike at any age. The lifestyle you lead in your younger years can have a significant impact on your risk as you get older. That’s why it is important to live a heart-healthy lifestyle at every age.
The good news is that it’s never too late to start!
What Is A Heart-Healthy Lifestyle?
A heart-healthy lifestyle is a way of living that reduces your risk for heart disease. There are a number of key lifestyle factors that will go a long way for reducing your risk of heart disease in any decade of your life.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease. If you do smoke, it’s time to quit. Stopping smoking will reduce your risk for coronary disease and other serious conditions.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet. That means eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole-grains that are high in fiber; eating lean protein and fish; and limiting red meat and foods that are high in saturated fat, salt and sugar.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Your weight can also influence your risk for heart disease. Being overweight or obese puts more stress on your heart. It also increases your risk for other factors that can lead to heart disease, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
- Stay active. The American Heart Association’s recommendation is at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week.
- Get regular checkups. Annual checkups can help identify risks for heart disease and other medical conditions early, often before they become a problem. Even if you’re feeling healthy, don’t skip your annual wellness visit.
- Manage medical conditions. High blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar can all increase your risk for heart disease. If you are diagnosed with one or more of these conditions, work with your doctor to reduce your levels and ensure all medical conditions are well-controlled.
Know Your Risks
Although some risk factors such as age and hereditary conditions cannot be avoided, there are a number of risk factors that can be mitigated with lifestyle changes to reduce your overall risk for heart disease. They include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Physical inactivity
Staying Heart-Healthy In Every Decade
Following a heart-healthy lifestyle is the most important thing you can do for cardiovascular health. However, there are additional things you can do to reduce your risk at different stages of your life.
In Your 20s & 30s:
- Have regular wellness exams that include blood pressure and cholesterol screenings.
- Know your family history, and be sure to discuss it with your doctor.
- Manage stress.
In Your 40s & 50s:
- Middle-age is when weight can creep up as your metabolism slows down. Pay attention to your weight. Either avoid weight gain, or actively address excess weight with diet and lifestyle changes.
- Get your blood sugar level checked if you haven’t already. Many diseases like diabetes tend to occur more frequently during middle-age.
- Women should pay special attention to their health and speak with their doctor about hormonal changes, as the risk of heart disease increases with menopause.
- Know the warning signs of heart attack and stroke.
In Your 60s & Beyond:
- Closely monitor blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar for any changes.
- Ask your doctor about screenings that can help diagnose disease early.
- Remember that you are never too old to exercise or to start living a heart-healthy lifestyle if you haven’t already done so.
Making heart-healthy choices at every age will go a long way to heart health now and in the future. If you have any concerns about your heart health, give the Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists a call.
The team at Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists consists of North Louisiana’s leading experts in cardiovascular care. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call our office at (318) 798-9400.