If your goal is to prevent atherosclerosis, start by recognizing your risk factors for the condition, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes, and then treating and monitoring these conditions. An important part of lowering your atherosclerosis risk is adopting a healthy lifestyle, which includes following a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and being physically active. Medication may also be helpful.
An Overview of Atherosclerosis Prevention
Atherosclerosis is largely a preventable disease. Regardless of your age, background, or health status, you can lower your risk for atherosclerosis -- and it doesn't have to be complicated. Protecting your body from the effects of atherosclerosis can be as simple as taking a brisk walk, whipping up a good vegetable soup, or getting the support you need to maintain a healthy weight.
And the good news: Research shows that people can lower their risk enormously -- by as much as 82 percent -- simply by adopting sensible health habits. It's never too late to start protecting your heart health. A recent study shows that among people ages 70 to 90, leading a healthy lifestyle reduces the chances of dying from heart disease due to atherosclerosis by nearly two-thirds.
The steps you can take involve:
- Knowing your atherosclerosis risk factors
- Monitoring your health
- Knowing your family
- Making lifestyle changes
- Possibly taking medication.
Know Your Risk Factors
Preventing atherosclerosis begins with knowing which risk factors you have and then taking action to reduce your risk. Remember, your chance of developing coronary atherosclerosis increases with the number of risk factors you have.
Atherosclerosis risk factors include:
- Age (over the age of 45 for men and 55 for women)
- Having close relatives with heart disease at younger ages (diagnosed before age 55 in a father or brother; diagnosed before age 65 in a mother or sister)
- High cholesterol levels, also known as hypercholesterolemia
- High blood pressure, also known as hypertension (see Effects of High Blood Pressure)
- Diabetes (see Diabetes Complications)
- Being overweight or obese (see BMI Calculator to find your ideal weight)
- Not exercising
- Cigarette smoking.