What are Key Risk Factors for Heart Disease?
High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking are some of the main risk factors for heart disease, with high blood pressure being the top. Other medical conditions and lifestyle choices that can increase your risk of heart disease include diabetes, obesity, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use.
How Can I Reduce my Risk of Heart Disease?
One way to help reduce your risk of heart disease is to know your individual risk estimates. You can use the American Heart Association’s PREVENTTM online calculator to find out what those are.
Following the ABCS of heart health can also help reduce your risk of heart attack and disease.
A: Take aspirin as directed by your health care professional.
B: Control your blood pressure.
C: Manage your cholesterol.
S: Don’t smoke.
One of the first steps in following the ABCS is to find out what your blood pressure and cholesterol levels are. You can then work with your health care professional to determine what those numbers mean and how to keep them in a healthy range. Be sure to share your own medical history and if you have a family history of heart disease. You can also talk with your health care professional about how to quit smoking.
How to Talk to My Doctor About Heart Disease
Knowing your own risk factors and taking steps to lower them can literally save your life. While there are a lot of heart-healthy steps you can take on your own, it’s a good idea to team up with a health care professional and make sure you’re on track.
Medical visits can often be quick, and a little prep goes a long way. Write down your questions or concerns beforehand and take them with you so you don’t forget. You can also take notes during your visit, and don’t be afraid to follow up after your appointment if you feel your medical professional isn’t doing their part.
“Heart Disease Facts,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accessed January 15, 2024, https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm.
“ABCS of Heart Health,” Million Hearts, accessed January 15, 2024, https://millionhearts.hhs.gov/data-reports/factsheets/ABCS.html.
“Work With a Doctor,” Live to the Beat, accessed January 15, 2024, https://pulsecheck.livetothebeat.org/topic/work-with-a-doctor#section-next.