EVERY 40 SECONDS, someone in America has a heart attack, which can result from heart disease. It’s easy to believe you won’t become a statistic if you exercise every day, eat a well-balanced diet, and don’t smoke, but that’s a risky assumption.
Certain heart disease risk factors are beyond your control. They include:
- Age—Heart disease risk increases with age.
- Family history—If your parents had heart disease, you have a higher risk than someone with no family history.
- Gender—Men have a greater risk of heart disease than women. However, menopause, use of hormone replacement therapy, and a history of gestational diabetes, pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, and preeclampsia can all raise a woman’s risk.
- Race—African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, and some Asian-Americans are at greater risk than people of other races and ethnicities.
Be Informed—and Empowered
Uncontrollable risk factors shouldn’t leave you feeling that all hope is lost when it comes to preventing heart disease. You just need to take extra steps, beyond adopting healthy lifestyle behaviors, to keep your heart healthy.
One important step is scheduling an annual wellness visit with your primary care provider, who can perform blood pressure, cholesterol, and other tests as needed based on your risk level.