November 4, 2016

Heart health is for all ages

General Health

You are never too young or too old to take care of your heart.  People at any age can benefit from simple steps to keep their heart healthy, and making smart choices at an early age can create healthy habits to help prevent heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases.

Tools for all generations to take to heart:

 In Your 20s

  • Have regular wellness exams: Establishing a relationship with a doctor means you can form heart-healthy habits early and easily monitor possible changes in the future.  Talk to your doctor about you diet, lifestyle, and checking your blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, heart rate, body mass index, and waist circumference.
  • Be physically active: Mix up your exercise routine and find new motivators to keep your workout interesting.  It is much easier to stay active throughout your life if you start at a young age.
  • Avoid secondhand smoke: If you picked up smoking as a teen, now is the time to quit.  Even secondhand exposure poses serious health problems, so try to avoid it at all costs.

 In Your 30s

  • Make it a family affair: You can benefit from instilling heart-healthy habits in your children.  Explore a nearby park or encourage your kids to help you cook in the kitchen, and take these healthy steps together.
  • Know your family history: Dig into your past to learn about your family’s health history.  A family history of heart disease increases your risk, so take control by making healthy choices and inform your doctor.
  • Control your stress: Long-term stress can increase your heart rate, blood pressure, and long-term heart damage.  Learning stress management techniques can be vital to your heart’s health, so breathe deep and find some time every day to do something you enjoy.

 In Your 40s

  • Watch your plate—and weight: Your metabolism starts slowing down in your 40s, but you can avoid weight gain by getting plenty of exercise and sticking to a healthy diet.  Stay motivated by trying new recipes and activities, or find friend to share your new plan and help each other stay on track.
  • Have your blood sugar checked: You should have your fasting blood sugar (FBS) tested for the first time around age 45; this is often the first check for (pre)diabetes and will provide a baseline for future tests.

 In Your 50s

  • Learn the warning signs: Not everyone experiences tell-tale symptoms of a stroke and heart attack, so it is important to know the warning signs.  Women can also experience different symptoms than men.
  • Follow the treatment plan: If you have been diagnosed with a condition that increases your risk for heart disease or stroke, closely follow your prescribed treatment plan, including diet, lifestyle plans and medication.

 In Your 60s+

  • Have an ankle-brachial index test: In addition to eating healthy, exercising, and managing any health issues that arise, you should also have your first ankle-brachial index test, which helps diagnose peripheral artery disease (PAD), a lesser-known cardiovascular disease.  This test should be performed every one to two years as part of a regular physical exam.

With age comes an increased risk for heart disease, but by taking these steps and making simple heart-healthy choices, you can help prevent heart disease at any age.