February is Heart Month: How can I reduce my risk of heart disease?
Several health conditions, your lifestyle, your age and family history can increase your risk for heart disease. These are called risk factors. About half of all Americans (47%) have at least 1 of 3 key risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. Some risk factors for heart disease cannot be controlled, such as your age or family history. But you can take steps to lower your risk by changing the factors you can control.
To lower your chances of getting heart disease, it’s important to do the following:
- Know your blood pressure. Having uncontrolled blood pressure can lead to heart disease. High blood pressure has no symptoms, so it’s important to have your blood pressure checked regularly.
- Talk to your doctor or health care team about whether you should be tested for diabetes. Having uncontrolled diabetes raises your risk of heart disease.
- Quit smoking. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, research ways to quit.
- Discuss checking your blood cholesterol and triglycerides with your doctor.
- Make healthy food choices. Obesity or being overweight raises your risk of heart disease.
- Avoid or limit alcohol to one drink a day.
- Manage stress levels by finding healthy ways to cope with stress.