Think heart disease is something you don’t have to worry about until you reach your dad’s age? Think again: Plaque begins to build up in your arteries as early as childhood and continues to progress throughout adulthood.
Over time, plaque may partially or completely block blood flow through an artery, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. In some people, this process speeds up as early as your 30s, while others may not experience the effects until later in life.
The good news? There are steps you can take to boost your heart health now.
Your Health Is in Your Hands
Some risk factors such as your age, gender—men have a higher risk for heart attack than women do—and family history you can’t change. Others you can. To improve your heart health today:
- Quit smoking.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Reduce your intake of saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol.
- Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity five or more days per week.
- Work with your doctor to manage your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes.
- Take steps to deal with stress.
- Limit alcohol intake to no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.
What’s Up, Doc?
Starting at age 20, visit your doctor for heart-health screenings. Some of the screenings you may receive include checking your blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, and body mass index (BMI). If your doctor finds you have a problem, such as high blood pressure, he or she will recommend steps you can take to manage it before you develop more serious issues.
If heart problems do arise, we can help. Learn about the conditions we treat, or find a heart or vascular specialist by clicking here.