The number one leading killer of adults over the age of 65 is heart disease. Although this may be a shock to some people, others know this all too well. According to the CDC, within the United States, more than 630,000 people per year are killed by heart disease. About half of Americans (49%) have at least one of the three big risk factors for this disease including, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking.
Other factors such as family history, age, and lifestyle choices play a role in developing heart disease. Lifestyle choices such as excessive alcohol use, overweight and obesity, poor diet, and physical inactivity also take a huge toll on your heart. Another factor to include is diabetes, which over time, high blood glucose from diabetes can damage your blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart and blood vessels. Those with diabetes tend to develop heart disease at a younger age than people without diabetes.
What can you do about it? How can you alter the risk factors that already feel stacked against you? Fortunately, there are many things you can do, starting now, that will help prevent your risk of heart disease.
- Properly manage your diabetes. It’s important to get tested for diabetes, and if you have it, to keep it under control. Take your medication and make sure to see your doctor on a regular basis.
- Quit Smoking. Smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease. About 20% of all deaths from heart disease in the U.S. are directly related to cigarette smoking. Quit Smoking.
- Physical Activity. Get outside and move around. Join a gym or a health club. Go golfing with a buddy. Play with your grandkids. Whatever keeps you moving and active, keep doing it!
- Eat Healthy. Your momma always said to eat your fruits and vegetables. So do it. Eating a healthy, balanced diet not only will increase your energy, but also give you the nutrition your body needs to stay healthy.
- Manage your blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. Get your blood pressure checked regularly – at least once a year for most adults, and more often if you have high blood pressure. If you are on blood pressure medication, be persistent in taking it.
- Maintain a healthy cholesterol level. It’s important to keep your cholesterol and triglyceride levels in balance. High levels of cholesterol can clog your arteries and raise your risk of coronary artery disease and heart attack. Healthy lifestyle changes and medication will help lower your cholesterol.
- Properly managing stress and getting enough sleep are also ways to prevent heart disease.
Your body is an amazing vessel and can do extraordinary things, however when it’s pushed to the limit it will start to fail. Be proactive in preventing heart disease by taking care of yourself. Don’t be another statistic of heart disease.