heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In fact, more than 600,000 Americans die of heart disease each year.

Heart disease increases your chances of having heart attacks and other serious health issues. Not only is early action important when it comes to warning signs or symptoms, but also prevention is crucial.

By making the lifestyle adjustments shared below, you’ll be able to greatly reduce your risk of heart disease so that you can live healthy and stay active as you age.

Cause of Heart Disease

Anyone, regardless of age, can develop heart disease. It occurs when excessive amounts of plaque build up in your arteries, causing blockage and reducing blood flow.

There are several factors that can increase your probability of developing heart disease. The most prominent are:

  • Smoking
  • Having an unhealthy diet
  • Not getting enough exercise

These same factors can also lead to additional health concerns that increase your likelihood of developing heart disease. These concerns include:

  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes

How to Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease

While heart disease is a very serious health concern, it can be prevented. The sooner you start taking precautionary steps and making the appropriate lifestyle adjustments, the greater your chance of preventing it. So, start today!

1. Don’t Smoke or Stop Smoking

The adverse effects of smoking are well documented, so this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. The chemicals in tobacco smoke damage blood cells and impair your heart’s ability to function properly. It also causes the buildup of plaque in your arteries, which, as mentioned before, causes heart disease.

2. Have a Healthy Diet

Eating foods that contain saturated fats raises cholesterol levels in blood. Avoid these types of foods with saturated fats and eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, and nuts.

3. Exercise Regularly

Exercise lowers your blood pressure, which reduces the strain and stress on your heart. Also, when combined with a healthy diet, it can help you maintain a healthy weight. Having excess weight forces your heart to work harder and greatly increases your chances of developing heart disease.

4. Reduce Your Alcohol Consumption

Long term, heavy drinking raises your blood pressure and causes weight gain. Avoid binge drinking and if you do drink, be sure to pace yourself and alternate with food and water.

5. Visit Your Doctor and Have Wellness Exams Regularly

According to the CDC, about 47% of sudden cardiac deaths occur outside of a hospital. This statistic suggests that many people with heart disease don’t act on early warning signs or symptoms.

Stay on top of your health by having regular exams and screenings. Talk to your doctor more about your diet, exercise, and current lifestyle to see what other recommendations he or she might have.

Live Actively with a Healthy Heart

Heart disease is an extremely serious yet common issue in the United States. However, by making the appropriate lifestyle adjustments and consulting your doctor early and often, you can greatly reduce your risk of developing it.