Lots of things affect whether you get heart disease, and you control many of them. Little things you do every day can make a difference.
1. Unwind and connect. Cut out as much stress as possible. Find ways to ease the stress you can't avoid. Exercise, meditation, and talking to people you trust are three ideas to start with.Work on your weight. Most Americans are overweight. Bringing your weight to a healthy level is a plus for your heart.
Atherosclerosis takes place over a lifetime. Complications from atherosclerosis tend to happen later in life. But the process of narrowing and hardening of the arteries starts early, progressing over decades.
Developing some atherosclerosis is often unavoidable. It's the result of aging and our own genetic tendencies. A much larger part, though, is determined by our behavior and lifestyle choices as we move through life.
How old are your arteries? Are they the ones you had in college? Or are...
2. Upgrade your next meal. Favor fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. Pass on foods that are salty, high in fat, or fried. Repeat for the meal after that, and so on, until it's routine.
3. Make an exercise menu. For your heart's sake, you should make it a habit to be active, so pick a couple of activities that sound like fun. That way, you always have some choices about what to do when you exercise at least three to four times a week for 30 minutes at a time. It burns calories and helps keep extra pounds off.
4. Rethink your drink. Limit alcohol. Moderate drinking may be OK, but more than that is bad for you. What's moderate drinking? Up to 1 glass a day for women, and up to 2 glasses a day for men.
5. Check your numbers. Many people have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or blood sugar levels that are too high, and they don't know it. Your doctor can check all of these things and, if any of your numbers are too high, recommend a plan of action.