Heart disease occurs when blood vessels become narrowed or blocked. This can eventually lead to a heart attack or stroke. Age, gender and family history are universal risk factors and play a role in determining every individual’s risk for heart disease.

However, about half of all Americans (47%) have at least one of these three additional risk factors:

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a “silent killer.” Most of the time there are no obvious symptoms. When left untreated, the damage that high blood pressure does to your circulatory system is a significant contributing factor to heart attack, stroke and other health threats.

High Cholesterol

If you have high blood cholesterol, making lifestyle modifications is a great first step to lower your risk of heart disease. If those steps don’t reduce your risk enough, your doctor may prescribe medications to help.

Remember: Making even modest changes now can help to prevent significant medical challenges later. Do all that you can to reduce your risk for the serious consequences of heart attack and stroke.

Smoking

You probably know about the relationship between smoking and lung cancer, but did you know smoking is also linked to heart disease, stroke and other chronic diseases? Smoking can increase your risk for cancer of the bladder, throat, mouth, kidneys, cervix and pancreas.The best thing you can do for your health is to quit tobacco entirely. Don’t spend the rest of your life chained to a nicotine addiction. Thousands of people kick the habit every year, and you can be one of them. It may not be easy, but you can do it!

Fortunately, these three risk factors can be controlled by making a few lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise and eating a healthy diet. Other health factors such as diabetes, being overweight and excessive alcohol use can also be reduced by adopting a healthy lifestyle.

Talk to your doctor today about how you can minimize YOUR risk of heart disease.

Sources: American Heart Association