When it comes to preventing heart disease, it’s important to understand what causes it and how to manage your risk factors.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. However, many forms of heart disease can be prevented or managed with lifestyle changes.
Learn more about how to keep your heart healthy from Charles Lenz, M.D., a cardiologist at Sanford Health in Bismarck, North Dakota.
What is heart disease?
Heart disease includes a range of conditions that keep the heart from adequately receiving, pumping or distributing blood. The most common form of heart disease is coronary artery disease, where plaque builds up in the arteries and restricts blood flow to the heart. CAD can lead to chest pain and heart attack.
Who is at risk for heart disease?
Anyone can get heart disease. Some forms of heart disease are present at birth (congenital), while others develop over time. Like other diseases, the risk of developing heart disease is related to a person’s age and family history. Those at higher risk include:
- Women over age 55 and men over age 45
- Anyone whose father or brother had heart disease before age 55
- Anyone whose mother or sister had heart disease before age 65
Other risk factors are related to lifestyle, with the biggest risks including:
- Being overweight
- Eating an unhealthy diet
- Having high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes
- Not getting enough exercise
How can someone reduce their risk of heart disease?
Preventing heart disease starts with a healthy lifestyle. During a primary care visit, your provider can help you create a plan to reduce your risk of heart disease, which may include making changes to your diet, getting more exercise, and keeping blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control, along with other lifestyle changes.
What is a heart screening?
A heart screening is the safest, most effective tool for learning about your heart health and finding a heart problem early. Heart screenings are recommended once every 10 years starting at age 40, unless an abnormal screening requires more frequent testing.
This painless test gives you and your doctor a better look at your risk by checking your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, body mass index, calcium levels and more for signs of heart disease. At Sanford Health in Bismarck, heart screenings are only $25 when you schedule a screening through April 15. To make your appointment, call (701) 323-5202.
What other resources are available?
To learn more about common heart conditions and how to keep your heart healthy, visit sanfordhealth.org.
- Heart screening catches hidden heart problems
- Stationary or mobile, heart screenings catch problems early
- Family matters: Inheriting high cholesterol