Reviewed by Cara Barrett, PA-C, MCHS
Heart disease is the number one cause of death among men and women in the United States. Over 600,000 Americans die from heart disease each year.
Heart disease affects all ages, genders, and ethnicities. Everyone needs to know the facts about heart disease and how to prevent it.
Risk factors for heart disease
The key risk factors for heart disease include
- high blood pressure
- high blood cholesterol
According to the American Heart Association, about half of the people in the United States (47%) have at least one of the three risk factors listed above.
Several other medical conditions and lifestyle choices put people at a higher risk for heart disease, including
- Unhealthy weight
- Unhealthy diet
- Physical inactivity
- Excessive alcohol use
Preventing heart disease
You can do several things to help prevent heart disease if you are at risk.
By living a healthy lifestyle, you can manage your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels and lower your risk for more than just heart disease.
- Choosing healthy meals and snacks will help prevent heart disease and its complications. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, more whole foods, and fewer processed foods.
- Maintaining a healthy weight helps to prevent heart disease. People that are overweight or obese have a higher risk for heart disease. When we carry extra weight, it adds additional stress to the heart and blood vessels.
- Physical activity helps to build a stronger heart and helps to maintain a healthy weight. Staying active lowers your blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar levels.
- Smoking increases the risk of more than just heart disease. If you don’t smoke now, keep it that way to manage your risk of heart disease. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. Stopping is difficult, but plenty of resources are available to quit smoking.