How long can you live with heart disease?
Approximately 84 million Americans are living with heart disease, according to the American Heart Association. More than 600,000 people die of heart disease each year, making it the number one cause of death in the United States. However, heart disease is not always a death sentence. Learn how long you can live with heart disease and ways to keep yourself healthy.
What Is Heart Disease?
Heart disease, or cardiovascular disease, occurs when the blood vessels that supply oxygenated blood to your heart become blocked or narrowed. Conditions that cause problems with your heart valves or heart rhythm may also be considered forms of heart disease. Heart disease makes you more prone to suffering a heart attack, stroke, or chest pain. In fact, many people do not find out they have heart disease until they experience one of these events.
How Long Can You Live with Heart Disease?
The answer to the question, “How long can you live with heart disease?” is that there is no good answer. Some people with heart disease live for several decades before dying of unrelated causes. Others succumb to a cardiac event within months or years.
The factors that determine your longevity include your genetics, family history, chronic health problems, weight, and lifestyle choices. Some of these factors are outside of your control (like your genes). Others, however, can be changed. Learn what you can do to live longer with heart disease.
Ways to Live Longer with Heart Disease
Cardiovascular disease co-occurs with a variety of other medical conditions, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Investing your time and energy in the following lifestyle changes can help you practice good heart care:
- Eat a healthy diet. The best diet for heart health includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Avoid eating excessive amounts of red meat. Instead, swap fish or beans as sources of protein.
- Decrease your sodium intake. Sodium is found in a variety of processed foods. Lower your sodium consumption to promote healthier blood pressure and heart health.
- Stop smoking. Smoking significantly increases your risk of heart disease. It’s never too late to quit. Talk to your doctor about strategies to help you cut back and quit entirely.
- Aim for a healthy weight. Maintaining a healthy body weight places less stress on your cardiovascular system. Ask for a referral to a nutritionist to learn strategies for healthy weight loss.
- Exercise. Exercising is one of the best things you can do for your heart. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day, most days of the week. You can break exercise into smaller 10-minute chunks if it’s easier to fit into your schedule.