Ask an 18- to 24-year-old if he or she is living a healthy lifestyle, and nine times out of 10, you’ll get an affirmative. At least, that’s what the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association found in a new national survey.
But many young adults engage in risky health behaviors. What’s more, one-third of them don’t think the way they live now affects their stroke risk later.
Smoking, Fast Food Put Young Hearts at Risk
The survey results, released in May 2011, paint an unhealthy picture of the nation’s college-age population. Of those who responded:
And the consequences may already be appearing. More young adults than ever are dying suddenly of cardiac causes. About one in five have high blood pressure. And having multiple unhealthy habits appears to increase their risk for “silent,” or symptom-free, heart disease.
Change Your Health Future
Scientists continue to tie risk factors at a young age to health consequences years down the line. For example, one new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found abnormal cholesterol counts in 18- to 30-year-olds predicted clogged arteries two decades later. The good news: Research suggests healthy lifestyles reduce the risk for a first stroke by about 80 percent. Another recent study, in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, proves it’s possible to change your fate as you age. People who adopted healthy habits between youth and adulthood lowered their cholesterol, even if it was high at an early age.
Connect With Your Doctor
Young people establish a relationship with their primary care doctors by making an appointment to get a checkup or preventive services at least once or twice a year. By setting this foundation of care, young people can build toward a healthy future. Need a doctor? We can help. Call 1-877-477-Doc1 (3621) or visit botsford.org/doctors/directory.