Preventing or reducing the chances of heart disease is something you’re never too young–or too old–to think about. Leading a healthy lifestyle, starting from your teenage and early adult years, can significantly reduce your risk for heart disease later in life. Learn what you can do to stay heart healthy at every age:
In Your 20s
Most people in their 20s don’t keep cardiac disease “top of mind.” However, it is important to start taking steps to stay heart healthy.
- Know your family history – If anyone in your family has had heart disease or any of its risk factors, your chances of developing it increases.
- Know your numbers – Your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels and your waist circumference are key indicators for heart health.
- Stop smoking – If you smoke, even occasionally, quit now. Smoking drives up the risk of heart disease and stroke by two to four times.
- Drink in moderation – Moderate drinking means no more than one drink a day.
- Eat balanced, healthy meals – Make sure your meals include variety to get the nutrients you need. Be generous with fresh vegetables, fruit, whole grains, fish, nuts and low-fat dairy. Minimize salt, saturated fat, processed meat and sugary drinks (including fruit juice).
- Exercise three to four times a week – Aim for for 40 minutes of moderate exercise, three or four times a week.
In Your 30s
Hopefully, you learned how to stay heart healthy in your 20s, and began a good-for-you lifestyle. Continue your self-care to stay heart healthy.
- Manage stress – Learn what causes your stress and ways to relieve it, whether it’s meditating, listening to music or exercising. Chronic stress can have long-term, negative effects on cardiac health.
- Get enough sleep – The quality of sleep you get each night can impact on attempts to stay heart healthy. While everyone’s sleep needs are different, six to eight hours of sleep is a good rule of thumb.
In Your 40s
Family and work responsibilities can make it easy to sidetrack your efforts to stay heart healthy. Committing to a healthy lifestyle sets a good example for your children.
- Strive for balance – In between carpools and office meetings, find some time for yourself. Take time each day to relax and do something you enjoy.
- Manage weight with physical activity – For a variety of reasons, many people in their 40s tend to gain weight. Physical activity can help control weight. It doesn’t have to be time consuming: Try playing outside with your children, taking your dog for a walk and using the stairs instead of the elevator. It all counts!
- Be a role model – Children are impressionable so it’s important to encourage healthy habits when they’re young. Make sure to share (and show) the importance of eating right and exercising to stay heart healthy.
- Get regular checkups – Make it a priority to see your primary care physician for an annual checkup. Get tested for cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels and waist circumference, which will serve as a baseline comparison for future tests.
In Your 50s
Hormonal changes during our 50s increases the risk of cardiac disease. Don’t forget to maintain healthy habits to stay heart healthy. Take note of your overall health and bring any concerns to your physician.
- Monitor changes in your body – Most women begin menopause in their early to mid 50s. There are many physical changes during this transition, sometimes including new and unusual symptoms.
- Recognise heart attack warning signs – Unexplained fatigue; weakness; pain in the abdomen, neck, jaw, shoulder or upper back; nausea or vomiting; shortness of breath; cold sweat; light-headedness; and palpitations.
- Participate in your care – Take an active role in your health. Continue to know your numbers. Speak with your physician to learn if you are at risk for cardiac disease, then develop a plan to minimize your risk and stay heart healthy.
In Your 60s and Beyond
It’s never too early or too late to help reduce your risk of heart disease. The better you manage your risk factors, the less likely you are to have a heart attack or stroke in the future.
- Exercise moderately for 40 minutes, three or four times a week.
- Choose food wisely by eating fruit and vegetables, whole grains, fish, nuts and dairy and limiting salt, saturated fats, processed meats and sugary drinks.
- Get adequate sleep every night–6 to 8 hours.
- Manage stress by taking time each day to do something you enjoy
- Get regular checkups and team up with your physician.