Congratulations! If you’re reading this, you have likely taken a huge step in preventing heart disease. You’ve found out your risk. Many times, taking the first step can be the most difficult step of all. Now it’s time to take control of your own heart health.
Now comes the question – what do you do with this newfound information? You’ve assessed your risk with an online profiler. Now what? Well, the answer depends on what your personal risk is – or your “heart age”.
Keep in mind that everyone is at some risk for cardiovascular disease. There are risk factors that you can control such as diet and exercise and ones that are out of your control such as family history.
Here are some tips for what to do based on the result that you received.
Low risk – heart age is the same, or less than, your actual age
If you are in this risk category, it is likely that you are doing many things right. Keep on keepin’ on! Remember, as your age increases, your risk for heart disease also increases. Be sure to keep up your healthy habits as you become older.
Download our General Heart Health Guide to see if there is anything else that you could be doing.
Moderate risk – heart age is higher than your actual age
There could be several factors that landed you in the “moderate risk” category. Was it your weight or lack of exercise? Do you smoke and are having a difficult time trying to quit?
Here’s the good news: We call these modifiable risk factors – ones that you have the power to change. Making lifestyle adjustments that reduce your cholesterol levels and lower your weight can greatly reduce your risk of heart disease. The important part is getting the help you need to make any necessary changes.
Exercise – Chances are, if you have not exercised for some time, you are not going to be able to go outside and run a marathon. Guess what, most of us cannot run a marathon even if we are keeping up with a heart healthy lifestyle. Start with something you enjoy as ease yourself into it. If it is an activity you enjoy, you’re more likely to stick with it!
Smoking Cessation – Smoking can increase your blood pressure and your risk of blood clots. Quitting is never easy, but finding a support group and smoking cessation program can help.
Healthy Eating Habits – Make a weekly meal plan with less salt and lots of fruits and veggies. Cooking meals on Sundays means healthy leftovers all week. And being prepared with a plan makes it easier to make healthy decisions during the week.
High risk – heart age is higher than your actual age along with several risk factors
First, let’s figure out why your result was “high risk”. Do you have a family history of heart disease? Do you have diabetes or another co-existing condition that may put you at high risk?
Family History – Here’s the thing – you can’t control your genetics. But now you know that because of your family history, you are at a higher risk for heart disease. A cardiologist can help you come up with a plan to make the necessary changes to decrease your risk.
Your family history is not modifiable, but it can be manageable.
Diabetes – Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease than those adults without diabetes. You can control your diabetes by maintaining a healthy weight, exercising and eating a heart healthy diet.
Whether you fall in the low, medium or high risk category, there are always steps you can take to better your heart health. If you are on the lower end of the risk category, you may be able to take those steps on your own. For those at the higher end of the risk category, having a cardiologist help you develop a plan is essential and can make all the difference.