There are numerous factors affecting heart health from age and family history to weight and stress levels. While you can’t stop yourself from aging or choose who your family is, you can take steps to manage your health and mitigate risks. The first step is recognizing the signs.
Here are five signs you need to get your heart checked.
Your weight can have a significant effect on heart health, and it is often associated with other risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. When you are at a healthy weight, your body can circulate blood more efficiently and better manage your fluid levels.
If you are overweight or obese, talk to your doctor about your heart health and make an action plan to shed some of those pounds. Losing just a few pounds can make a dramatic difference in your cardiovascular health.
Aging is a natural process, but it brings with it additional health concerns and risks. Unfortunately, you can’t prevent aging, but you can plan for your ongoing health. When it comes to heart health, men over the age of 50 and women over the age of 45 have an increased risk for cardiovascular disease.
Even if you have an overall healthy lifestyle, be sure to check in with your doctor if you fall into this age demographic. Your doctor will be able to assess your heart health and recommend steps to mitigate risk, whether that’s changes in physical activity, diet or medication.
Family history is another factor affecting heart health. If your parents or other family members have had heart conditions, you may be at a higher risk. And while you can’t choose your family or their associated health conditions, knowing your family medical history gives you the advantage of foresight.
When you know you’re at a higher risk for heart disease, you can work with your doctor to monitor your heart, take steps to manage your health and hopefully, prevent significant health problems from developing or worsening.
We live in a fast-paced, high-stress world. And this is affecting our health on many levels — including the heart.
While the exact connection between stress and cardiovascular health is not clear, stress is associated with high blood pressure, increased cholesterol and unhealthy habits such as smoking, drinking and inactivity. Part of this is due to how we respond to stress. To cope with increased pressure, many people turn to smoking, drinking, sleeping and overeating, all of which contribute to poor heart health.
If you are regularly stressed, finding healthy coping strategies can not only help you manage unwanted stress but also reduce your risks for cardiovascular disease, says the American Heart Association. Consider taking a stress management class, talking to a therapist or reducing your workload or daily schedule.
Blood glucose levels
In addition to blood pressure and cholesterol, your blood glucose levels are a good indicator of your overall health and long-term risk for heart disease.
High blood glucose levels put you at risk for prediabetes and diabetes. Left untreated, diabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke and other serious health problems. If you have high blood glucose or have already been diagnosed with prediabetes or diabetes, work with your doctor to create a plan to manage your health. Type 2 diabetes is preventable, so taking steps early can make a significant difference in your long-term health, including reducing your risk for heart disease.
To ensure that you are not at risk for heart problems, it is important that you are consulting with your Dr. to get age appropriate testing and annual medical check ups.