Atherosclerosis starts early and progresses throughout life. You can't see or feel it, but in most of us the process is already under way.
The plaques of atherosclerosis can grow to become blood vessel blockages. If a plaque ruptures, the sudden blood clot causes a heart attack or stroke.
Atherosclerosis is common, unpredictable, and potentially deadly. Is there any good news? Because atherosclerosis takes decades to progress, the process can be slowed down at any point, reducing the risk.
"There’s a lot of reason to believe you can trump your family history or promote a healthier, longer life if you focus as early as possible on the risk factors you can control,” says cardiologist Donald Lloyd-Jones, MD, ScM, of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Here are the top 5 habits to change, for your heart's sake:
1. Sit Too Much
You may have heard that "sitting is the new smoking." It's true: Spending a lot of time seated is bad for you. Inactive people are nearly twice as likely to develop heart disease as those who are more active, according to the surgeon general.