At what age should you start thinking about heart health? The sooner, the better, says Jody Corpe, E.P., M.S., Lake Regional Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation manager.

At what age should you start thinking about heart health?

The sooner, the better, says Jody Corpe, E.P., M.S., Lake Regional Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation manager.

“The earlier in life you commit to taking care of your heart, the better off you will be,” Corpe says. “Lifestyle changes can go a long way in protecting heart health.”

Unfortunately, more Americans are developing cardiovascular disease in middle-age.

More than 775,000 Americans between the ages of 35 and 64 were hospitalized for heart attacks, strokes, heart failure and other related conditions in 2016, and 75,000 middle-age Americans died from these causes.

Set Your Goals

Adults in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s should develop good habits to protect their hearts.

“Don’t feel like you have to make all of these changes at once,” Corpe says. “Fixing even one of these areas will result in encouraging benefits. Start small, and plan to build on your achievements.”

• Eat a healthy diet. “Focus on eating healthier, not on eating less,” Corpe says.

• Maintain a healthy weight. Also pay attention to your waist circumference. Waist circumferences greater than 40 inches for men and greater than 35 inches for women are associated with higher risk.

• Get enough physical activity. “Make opportunities to be more active throughout the day — take the stairs, park farther away, and if you work at a desk, spend a minute or two up and moving every hour,” Corpe says.

• Don’t smoke or use other forms of tobacco. “Talk to your doctor to get the support you need to quit,” Corpe says.

• Limit alcohol use. Drinking too much alcohol raises a person’s blood pressure. Men should have no more than two drinks per day, and women, only one.

Need motivation to make these habits stick?

“Think about what you want out of life,” Corpe says. “Simple things like being active with your kids and grandkids, being able to work as long as you want, continuing hobbies and even just being here — not being one of the thousands of Americans who die in middle age from a preventable heart attack or stroke. These are the priorities to keep in mind as you commit to lifestyle changes.”