Starting early: Heart healthy habits

Archive, December, Month

While low risk for heart disease, it’s not too early for young people to begin heart healthy habits.

For the average twenty- or thirty-something, thoughts and concerns of heart disease, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure and other chronic cardiovascular conditions might be far from their daily thoughts.

While heart disease, in its many forms, are the leading cause of death among men and women worldwide, more than 80 percent of heart disease-related deaths occur after age 65.

People don’t have to wait for the onset of symptoms and even the development of risk factors. To lessen their risk later in life, there are simple activities and everyday lifestyle changes low-risk people can begin in their 20s and 30s, starting and building healthy habits they can continue into later life.


A poor diet can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and diabetes, all significant risk factors for developing heart disease.

Along with portion control, a diet focusing on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins can promote heart health.

Stay active

Much like a poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle with little activity can increase the risk for the development of chronic conditions and heart disease.

Staying active through any form of exercise can get results — anything that can elevate the heart rate will increase cardiovascular health.


Avoid smoking and all tobacco products. Don’t start. If you’re a smoker, stop.

Smoking has contributed to one of every three cardiovascular-related deaths. The habit thickens the arteries, hardening them, and promotes plaque build-up.

Even if someone already smokes, their risk for heart disease reduces by half a year after quitting.


Talk to your family and your doctor.

A family history increases the risk of heart disease developing in later generations. Talk to family to know if there’s a history there, and to what extent.

This information, along with all lifestyle choices and potential risk factors, can aid a doctor as he or she guides their patient’s health, explaining the conditions, making recommendations and, when circumstances warrant, refer a patient to a cardiologist.