Heart disease is the #1 killer in the U.S. and a leading cause of disability. There are numerous risk factors that can increase your chances of getting it—some in your control, and some out of it. 

Let’s start with the risk factors that you can’t change:

  • Your gender. Some risk factors can affect women differently than men. Example: Estrogen provides some protection, but diabetes raises the risk in women more so than in men.
  • Your age. Heart disease risk increases with age, and adults 45 and older have a greater risk.
  • Your race or ethnicity. Certain ethnicities have a greater risk than others. 
  • Your family history. If you’ve had a close family member who had heart disease, your risk increases.

Ok, so how can you lower your risk of getting heart disease?

Thankfully, there are multiple ways to reduce your risk of getting heart disease: 

  • Manage your blood pressure. Get your blood pressure checked frequently (at least once a year or more if you have high blood pressure), and take steps to prevent or regulate high blood pressure. Having high blood pressure is a major risk factor. 
  • Control cholesterol and triglyceride levels. High cholesterol can clog arteries and high triglycerides can raise your risk of coronary artery disease. Implement lifestyle healthy changes and medicines (if recommended by a doctor) to lower your cholesterol and triglycerides. 
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being obese or overweight can majorily increase your risk of heart disease, since carrying excess weight is linked to other heart disease risk factors (like high cholestrol or triglyceride levels, diabetes, and high blood pressure). Managing your weight can lower these risks.
  • Manage or get tested for diabetes. If you have diabetes, high blood sugar can damage blood vessels and nerves, doubling your risk of diabetic heart disease. Be sure to keep your diabetes under control, or get tested if you don’t currently have it.
  • Eat healthy. Avoid added sugars, sodium, and reduce saturated fats. Eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, and whole foods.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise strengthens your heart and improves circulation and can also help you maintain a healthy weight and lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. 
  • Quit smoking. If you smoke, quitting will lower your risk of getting heart disease. If you don’t smoke, definitely don’t start. Smoking raises your blood pressure and increases your chances of a stroke or heart attack.
  • Cut down on alcohol. Drinking alcohol frequently can increase your blood pressure and the extra calories can cause weight gain--both of which raise your risk. Reduce your alcohol intake. 
  • Control stress. Stress is linked to many diseases, including heart disease. Implement stress-managing habits into your lifestyle, like exercise, listening to music, or meditating.
  • Get enough sleep. Sleep is a necessary and healing function that we all need. Without proper sleep, your risk of diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure increases. Aim to get 7-9 hours of sleep a night, and implement good sleep habits. 

Ensuring you eat good foods, maintain a healthy lifestyle, limit stress, and implement exercise habits is necessary in lowering your chances of heart disease and other illnesses like it.

If you think you could benefit from a lifestyle change, custom weight loss program, and expert health education, then book a FREE virtual consultation with a Ketality health coach today.
March 11, 2021 — Dr. Jason Olafsson