Age and Heart Disease


When you picture heart disease, you may think of someone 60 or older who is overweight and not in great health. The truth is, the risk for heart disease starts developing in your 20s and 30s. As the rate of obesity rises in the United States and people live more sedentary lifestyles, more people are putting their hearts at risk.

There is no such thing as ‘too young’ when it comes to protecting your heart health. If you begin heart-healthy habits at a young age, it can impact your future health. Considering heart disease is now the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, making healthy choices at a young age is necessary for life-long wellness. Remember, it is easier to prevent a heart condition than to reverse it once you have one.

If you want to start caring for your heart today, no matter what your age, here is some advice:

– Quit smoking. Never smoke again, that includes cigarettes, cigars, electronic cigarettes, and vape products.

– Exercise more. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of physical activity a week, but if that feels daunting, just start a walking program five to six days a week.

– Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Throw away the processed food and eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.

– Watch your sodium intake. The average American consumes more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day, but the American Heart Association recommends between 1,500 and 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day.

– Maintain a healthy weight. If you are overweight or obese, you are at a higher risk for heart disease. By reducing your weight just 10 percent, you can lower your risk of developing heart disease and other chronic health issues.

– Know your numbers. It is important to understand your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers and take medication to help keep them under control. Genetics can also play a role in heart disease risk so you should start getting regular screenings at the recommended age.

You need to start taking your heart health seriously before you have issues with high blood pressure or high cholesterol. A person who is dealing with heart disease today didn’t just wake up that way one day. Heart disease is usually caused by years of bad eating habits and lack of exercise. An unhealthy lifestyle and the belief that you’re too young to be at risk will add up – until you too have heart disease.

If you already have heart disease, it is never too late to make a positive impact on your health and wellness. Making lifestyle changes and following a heart-healthy plan can reduce your chances of complications and help manage current problems.

So, take action today. It is as easy as getting 30 minutes of exercise five days a week, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, and working with your primary care doctor or cardiologist to manage your risk for heart disease.


Michael Desiderio, DO, is a cardiologist with UPMC Susquehanna Heart & Vascular Institute. He earned his medical degree at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and completed his residency at the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio. He completed a fellowship in cardiology at Morristown Medical Center, N.J. The UPMC Susquehanna Heart & Vascular Institute Cardiology is located in the Health Innovation Center at UPMC Susquehanna Williamsport, 740 High St. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Desiderio, call 570-321-2800.