Many young people assume that they don’t need to worry about heart health. But while advanced age has long been a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, young people can also be at risk for heart disease.
More people are experiencing cardiac events under the age of 40, due in part to risk factors for heart disease
Anyone can experience cardiovascular disease, a
Although the chances that you’ll have one of these risk factors get higher as you age, young adults are increasingly at risk for serious heart incidents.
Compared to adolescents ages 12 to 19, a smaller percentage of adults ages 20 to 39 meet the ideal metrics for the following factors connected to heart disease risk:
- body mass index (BMI)
- total cholesterol
- fasting blood glucose
- blood pressure
- substance use
Young adults fare better for the other three factors, specifically diet, physical activity, and smoking. But while the proportion of both adolescents and young adults meeting ideal cholesterol and blood pressure guidelines has gone up over the past decade, the trends for BMI and fasting glucose have gone in the opposite direction.
The report also notes the concerning trends of higher rates of type 2 diabetes among young adults, as well as the use of e-cigarette products.
Recent studies have shown serious cardiac events are affecting young people at rising rates. A
Despite these statistics, you can take steps to
Know your family history
Your heart disease risk goes up if you have a
Lower your blood pressure
High blood pressure
You can make lifestyle changes to lower your blood pressure or talk with your doctor about a blood pressure-lowering medication.
Increase physical activity
Try to move more through daily physical activity, including walking and sports.
Maintain a moderate weight
Obesity is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. A
Take steps to manage weight through exercise and balanced eating patterns.
Manage your diabetes
By keeping diabetes or prediabetes under control, you can
Diabetes management can also help you to prevent other heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol.
While fewer young people are smoking regular cigarettes, more are using e-cigarettes, according to the
If you smoke, you can create a cessation plan with your doctor to support your heart’s health.
Other lifestyle changes, like eating a balanced diet, avoiding alcohol, and reducing stress can all help you support your heart health.
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You can speak with your doctor about heart health during a routine checkup, which many doctors recommend once a year. During these visits, you can ask every question you might have — even if you think it might be silly.
Your primary care physician can help you with
- testing blood glucose and blood cholesterol
- monitoring blood pressure
- managing weight
- eating a healthy diet
- managing diabetes
- quitting smoking
If your doctor thinks you are at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease or have a heart problem, they may refer you to a cardiologist.
Symptoms that might need the attention of a cardiologist include:
- shortness of breath
- heart murmur
- chest pain
- arrhythmia (irregular heart rate)
If you have a history of a heart event, like heart attack, your doctor may also suggest you see a cardiologist to improve your heart health.
You can ask your primary care doctor anything on your mind about heart health. Here are some common questions:
- Am I at high risk for cardiovascular disease?
- How can I reduce my heart disease risk?
- What’s my ideal blood pressure?
- How can I lower my blood pressure?
- How can I manage my diabetes or prediabetes?
- Are there foods I should avoid?
- What kinds of physical activity do you recommend?
- Can you help me quit smoking?
- My parent (or sibling) has heart disease. What does that mean for my heart health risk?
Family doctors are often specially trained in the prevention of chronic illnesses like heart disease. So if you want to start on the track to better heart health as a young adult, an appointment with your primary care provider is a good place to start.
Young adults are at risk for cardiovascular disease based on factors such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Recent studies show that these risk factors are increasing for young people.
You can take control of your heart health by adopting a healthy lifestyle and working with your doctor to manage chronic conditions like diabetes.