There are numerous factors that can increase your risk. By maintaining normal cholesterol and blood pressure levels and a healthy weight, you are minimizing three important risk factors that can help support your heart health.
Know your numbers—are you at risk?
Blood Pressure. High blood pressure is sometimes called the “silent killer” because there are often no symptoms associated with it in the early stages. It’s important to have your blood pressure checked regularly.
Cholesterol. High cholesterol is one of the major controllable risk factors for coronary heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. A simple blood test can measure the amount of “good” cholesterol (HDL) or “bad” cholesterol (LDL) in your blood. Current research is focused on the importance of lowering LDL cholesterol.
Weight. Overweight and obesity can both be defined by Body Mass Index or BMI (which is a ratio of weight to height). Being overweight to obese, and in particular carrying your extra weight around your abdomen, adds extra stress on your heart, increases inflammation, and puts you at significantly increased risk of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.
What can I do?
Even small changes in lifestyle (e.g. diet, exercise, and appropriate supplementation) can have a big impact. Here are the most important steps you can take: Lose weight if you are not at your ideal weight. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Avoid fast food. Get active. Avoid smoking. Manage stress. Work with your doctor to understand your risk factors.
You have only one heart. Making smart choices now will pay off the rest of your life.