The Heart Disease Prevention Guide for Your 20s, 30s, and 40s
Your lifestyle has probably stabilized, but your role as caretaker may be more taxing as you are sandwiched between children and aging parents. Declining estrogen levels can raise your risk of heart disease, because this hormone helps maintain the elasticity of arteries and guards against hardening. As you age, you're also more likely to develop visceral fat around your abdomen, which has been linked to low HDL, high blood sugar, and elevated triglycerides, all of which increase your chances of having a heart attack. You're also more at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, which has been linked to heart and blood vessel diseases.Build Your Social Circle
"A strong social network can ward off heart disease, since it helps relieve stress," says Dr. Goldberg. An American Heart Association study shows that those who go to church, volunteer, join social clubs, and have many friends have significantly lower blood pressure and other heart disease risk factors than those who don't. Plus this makes room for "you" time -- take a break from caring for everyone else!Have More Sex
Sex isn't just fun; it may actually decrease the risk of stroke, reports a study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. That's because sex gives your heart a mini workout. And you're probably way more comfortable in your own skin this decade, leading to greater satisfaction between the sheets, in the shower or...well, you get the picture.Take It Easy on the Coffee
Researchers haven't found a definitive link between caffeine and heart disease, but this stimulant can flood the body with increased stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which in turn can boost your stress level and unnecessarily tax your ticker. If your coffee consumption has crept up this decade, try switching one cup of java for green tea. A Japanese study showed that it contains nutrients that have significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which may reduce cardiovascular disease risk factors.
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