Do you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States?

Every year, 1 in 4 deaths is caused by heart disease. Unfortunately, heart diseases can affect young adults too. This is partly because conditions that lead to heart disease are happening at younger ages. As of 2016, the prevalence of obesity was 35.7% among young adults aged 20 to 39 years, 42.8% among middle-aged adults aged 40 to 59 years, and 41.0% among older adults aged 60 and older. Obesity increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Despite these statistics, there is good news. You can lower your risk of heart diseases by making healthy choices and proper health management.

Here are some tips to help you prevent heart disease:

1. Avoid Smoking

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. If you are not a smoker, do not start and if you are a smoker, you can quit. Smoking includes cigarettes, cigars, hookah, and even electronic cigarettes/nicotine vapes. There are many resources available to help you quit. Talk to your doctor about it. You can also call the quit line number 1-800-QUIT-NOW to help you stop smoking.

2. Manage your health conditions

Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to serious heart conditions including heart attack and stroke. Also, having high cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease. Work with your doctor to manage your conditions and continue taking your medications as prescribed.

3. Follow a heart healthy diet

Eat meals low in added sugar, trans-fat, saturated fats and sodium. Consume less than 1500 mg of sodium per day. Try to fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables, a quarter of your plate with whole grains, and a quarter of your plate with lean protein. Instead of dessert, choose a serving of fruit or yogurt!

4. Stay active

Exercise for at least 150 minutes per week. A mix of cardio and weight bearing exercises is recommended, and don’t forget to stretch. This can be split into 30 minutes per day for 5 days of the week or 15-20 minutes every day. You can be active by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or taking a 10-minute walk around the block. Find a walking buddy during your lunch break! Staying active helps improve overall health.

You are the cure! Spread the word and make a difference.

—Francisca Nduoyo Ikhumhen is a Doctor of Pharmacy/MBA candidate who is also co-chair of APhA-ASP Operation Heart and secretary for MCIP. She will graduate from Concordia in 2020. (References:,,

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