What to Know About the Risk Factors for Heart Disease

A senior woman making a heart symbol with her hands

Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death in this country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five Americans lose their life due to a cardiac-related condition each year. While some heart issues are the result of genetic risk factors, others are related to lifestyle choices.

In honor of American Heart Month in February, we are sharing eight behaviors that can impact a person’s risk for heart disease.

8 Lifestyle Choices That Lower Your Risk for Cardiovascular Diseases

1. Maintain healthy cholesterol: High cholesterol is a leading contributor to heart disease. While family history can play a role in cholesterol levels, lifestyle does, too. Work with your family doctor to monitor and manage your cholesterol.

2. Stop smoking: Most of us think the main hazard of smoking is lung cancer, but the experts at the CDC say tobacco use is also linked to heart disease. That includes secondhand smoke, too. If you are a smoker or live with one, talk with the doctor about which cessation programs have the highest success rates.

3. Manage stress: It’s an unfortunate reality that stress has become a part of everyday life. Finding positive ways to manage it is vital to your overall well-being, but especially the heart. Hobbies such as meditation, gardening, swimming, cycling, bird watching, walking and yoga are known for being great stress busters.

4. Keep moving: While exercise plays an important role in cardiovascular health, moving throughout the day is equally important. While some researchers say a sedentary lifestyle can be just as deadly as smoking, others say the evidence isn’t clear enough yet to support that assertion. What experts do agree on is that sitting too much is bad for your health.

5. Limit alcohol: This risk factor catches many people unawares. Consuming too much alcohol increases blood pressure while also adding empty calories to your diet and oftentimes increasing the likelihood for obesity. These are all linked to greater incidences of cardiovascular disease. Talk to your doctor for advice on how much—if any—alcohol is safe based on your personal risk factors.

6. Socialize often: People who live more engaged lives tend to be healthier and happier. Whether you volunteer for a nonprofit organization or take classes at a local art museum or community center, staying actively involved in life is good for you.

7. Adopt a healthy diet: Much has been written about the heart health benefits of a Mediterranean style of eating. It’s often associated with Blue Zones around the world, where people live longer, healthier lives. It’s a lifestyle that features menus focused on fruits, vegetables, nuts and lean protein.

8. Watch sodium intake: It’s no secret that Western diets are notoriously high in sodium. Due to the large amounts of sodium in fast food and processed foods, many Americans consume too much salt. That’s a problem because sodium and salt are linked to high blood pressure. By monitoring your intake, you can better manage your blood pressure and lower your risk for heart disease.

If your goal is to take steps to reduce your risk for heart disease this year, start by making small, consistent changes. It will increase the likelihood that you will stick with your healthy heart commitment if you don’t try to change everything at once. For example, give up two unhealthy foods each week while simultaneously increasing your level of physical activity.

It might also help to find a buddy who shares your commitment to making changes. The two of you can share strategies and offer each other moral support along this journey!

About American Senior Communities

As the largest senior care provider in Indiana, American Senior Communities offers a wide variety of Lifestyle and Care Options including Garden Homes, Assisted Living, New Energy Wellness, Inpatient and Outpatient Rehabilitation, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing Care, Hospice and Respite. Our mission is to compassionately serve each customer with quality care and excellence. To learn more about care options and/or career opportunities at American Senior Communities, visit ASCCare.com.

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Disclaimer: The statements on this blog are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The author does not in any way guarantee or warrant the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any message and will not be held responsible for the content of any message. Always consult your personal physician for specific medical advice.

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