Some things you just don’t say out loud. Like … “It can’t happen to me.”
You feel like you’re tempting fate if you let your thought become words. The reality, though, is that you may be putting yourself at risk already.
If you think you are immune to heart disease or a heart attack because you are still in your 40s or even 30s, you could be wrong.
More than 10 percent of our heart disease patients are in their 40s or younger.
Your risk of heart disease does increase as you age. But age is just one factor, and you can’t control that. Another factor is family history, and nobody gets to choose their genes, either. A third risk factor you can’t control is your gender – in general, males are at higher risk for heart attacks than females.
But there are many factors you do control. Here are some steps you can take – whether you are in your 20s or 50s -- to decrease your chances of getting heart disease now and in the future.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking can cause lung cancer, and it’s also a prevalent risk factor for heart disease.
- Eat right. Make fruits, vegetables, and lean meats the heart of your diet. This step is critically important because it can affect other risk factors, such as obesity, diabetes, cholesterol levels and high blood pressure.
- Exercise. This is another step that also impacts overall health. The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least five days per week or at least 25 minutes of vigorous exercise at least three days per week.
- Get regular physicals. Once you know your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, you will know if you need to make changes in order to reduce your risk of heart disease. If your numbers are concerning, your provider will be happy to help you develop a plan to improve your health.
There are some very effective medications that help control blood pressure and cholesterol. Nothing, however, compares to the benefits of a lifetime of good health. Regardless of your age, you can be working to make your heart healthier.
An Emory University study determined that half of all heart disease in the U.S. could be prevented by modifying behaviors.
Eating better and exercise still don’t guarantee that heart disease “won’t happen to me.” But it certainly can improve your odds.