GALVESTON COUNTY, Texas – Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. February marks American Heart Month and is the perfect time to learn about your risk for heart disease and what you can do to help your heart.
Heart disease doesn’t just happen to older adults. More and more, conditions that lead to heart disease are happening at a younger age. Americans, ages 35-64, are at risk for heart disease earlier in life due to high rates in obesity and blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Adopting healthy lifestyle changes can lower your risk of developing heart disease,” said Dr. Philip Keiser, Galveston County local health authority. “Controlling and preventing risk factors is also important for people who already have heart disease.”
Risk factors include high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and smoking/ tobacco use.
Did you know millions of Americans, of all ages, suffer from high blood pressure and about half of those people don’t have it under control? Uncontrolled high blood pressure is one of the biggest risks for heart disease.
High cholesterol also increases the risk of heart disease. Diabetes, obesity, smoking and eating unhealthy foods, in addition to not being physically active, all lead to higher cholesterol levels. Smoking also damages blood vessels and can cause heart disease.
But, it’s not all doom and gloom. Healthy changes can be made that may lower your risk of developing heart disease. And just the same, controlling risk factors is important for those who already have heart disease.
“The good news is you’re in control,” Keiser said.
Adopt healthy eating habits
Healthy meals and snack options can help you avoid heart disease, and its complications. Fresh fruits, vegetables and
foods low in saturated fats, trans fats, carbohydrates and cholesterol can help in the fight against heart disease. Most Americans eat far too much salt, which increases blood pressure. Reduce the amount of salt you consume by choosing low sodium options. Limit sugar, which can increase blood sugar levels by replacing sugary drinks like soda and juices with water or low-sugar alternatives.
Only one in five adults meets the Surgeon General’s physical guidelines of getting 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week. That’s just 2.5 hours a week, or 20 minutes a day, and can include brisk walking or bicycling.
Staying active helps you keep your heart and blood vessels healthy, maintain a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar levels. More than one in three Americans – and one in six children ages 2-19 – are considered obese. Extra weight puts stress on your heart.
Put down the cigarettes
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, according to the CDC. If you don’t smoke, keep it that way. If you do, speak to your doctor about the best way to quit.
Take charge of your health. Work with your doctor and health care team to manage conditions that could contribute to a higher risk of heart disease. This includes high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
For more information on how to take care of your heart, visit www.cdc.gov.