Are you at risk?
What are the factors that compromise your heart health? What can you do about it?
Understand your risk factors
Knowing the risks of heart disease is the first step in taking control of your heart health. The more risk factors you have, the more likely you are to suffer a heart attack or stroke. Some risk factors can't be controlled - however, many can.
First, there are a few things you can't change
Because your arteries become thicker and stiffer as you age, your risk of heart disease increases. In addition, the incidence of certain heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure, increases with age as well.
If anyone in your biological family has had heart disease, you have a higher risk - but lifestyle still plays a role. For example, if your family member had a heart attack due to risk factors such as a poor diet or smoking, and you have a healthy lifestyle, your risk is different.
While heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, there are some key differences between genders. Women tend to experience heart attacks about 10 years later in life than men. Also, women are twice as likely as men to die within the first few weeks after suffering a heart attack.But there are many things you can do to lower your risk
Smokers are 2-4 times more likely to develop heart disease. However, your risk for heart disease and stroke can be cut in half in just one year if you quit. Check out our helpful tips on how to kick the smoking habit once and for all.
Lack of physical activity
People who exercise moderately or rigorously regularly reduce their heart disease risk by 30-40 percent and their stroke risk by 25 percent. And for each hour of regular exercise you get, you gain about two hours of life. Aim for a reachable goal such as 30 minutes of exercise a day. Get help finding a routine you'll stick with.
If you're overweight, your risk is higher - but losing as few as 10-20 pounds can lower your heart disease risk. Read these tips on how to get exercise that doesn't feel like exercise.
A fatty, salty, sugary diet
A diet high in saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, cholesterol, and sodium increases your heart attack and stroke risk. Try adding more fruits and vegetables to your plate, while cutting back on processed foods and foods fried in oil. Decrease your portion size and be sure to drink lots of water. Learn about the top 10 heart healthy foods.
High LDL (bad) cholesterol
LDL cholesterol clogs your arteries and puts you at risk. While genetics impacts your LDL number, so does a lack of exercise and a diet high in saturated fat, trans fats and cholesterol. Try eating more fiber and fish, and check out easy heart smart recipes to help lower your cholesterol.
High blood pressure
High blood pressure is a leading risk factor for heart attacks and stroke. If you have high blood pressure, it can be managed by adopting a diet low in salt, saturated fats, cholesterol and alcohol. Physical activity and weight loss are also key in lowering your blood pressure.
Even when glucose levels are under control, diabetes doubles your risk of heart disease. With diabetes, it's important to monitor your other risk factors. Improving your diet, losing weight, quitting smoking, exercising, and taking medications can make a big difference.
Find out where you stand
Join us on the ProHeart Path. Start by learning your risk. Then get a personalized plan that helps you lower your risk and enjoy a heart-healthy lifestyle.