On average, in the United States, coronary artery disease (CAD) will take a life every minute this year.
Heart disease is responsible for about one out of every three deaths in the United States. When a 70+ year old has a heart attack or dies from heart related issues, it is so common it gets little attention. However, when someone in their 40s has a heart attack, people take notice. The average age for a first attack in men is 65. But as many as 4%-10% of all heart attacks occur before age 45, with the majority striking men.
So what can someone in their 40s do to make their heart healthier to lower this risk?
1. Manage your stress
In the 40s, most people are in the thick of their careers. Many people have more responsibilities that come with more experience and/or promotions. This can lead to higher stress. Everyday, set aside 15-20 minutes to relax, breathe deeply and either meditate, do yoga, stretch, go on a walk, take a warm bath, or whatever helps you to melt away stress. Also, look at things you can take off your plate and delegate to others.
2. Be physically active
If it isn’t already a part of your lifestyle, you should be sure to make physical activity a priority most days of your week. The American Heart Association recommends 150 total minutes of moderate physical exercise each week. Brisk walking, jogging, yoga, swimming, cycling and core strengthening exercises are excellent choices. If it will help, get an exercise buddy to go with you to hold you more accountable to do it.
3. Eat a heart-healthy diet
Eat at home the majority of the time and avoid fast food restaurants if eating out. However, if you do eat out, many restaurants offer heart-healthy options. When meal and grocery planning, be sure to include fruit, vegetables, fiber-rich, whole-grains, lean meats, fish rich in omega-3s, low-fat dairy, extra virgin olive oil, nuts, and watch sodium intake. Avoid foods with high sugar content, candy, processed and packaged foods, deep fried foods, processed and cured meats, transfats, soft drinks, sugar-sweetened juices, and margarine.
4. Get enough sleep
Both your quantity and quality of sleep can impact the health of your heart. You should have a goal to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Taking a short 20 minute nap in the afternoon may be just what your body needs to recharge. If you are experiencing frequent, restless sleep, you may want to do a sleep test to see if you have sleep apnea.
5. See your doctor
Don’t miss getting your annual physical appointment as you will get your blood pressure checked and other heart-healthy screenings, like blood sugar levels done once you hit 45.