Ask an Expert: What Are the First Steps I Should Take to Address My Heart Disease Risk?

This article is part of Health Divide: Heart Disease Risk Factors, a destination in our Health Divide series.

Ask an expert headshot of Dr. Shepherd

Xiaoyu Liu / Verywell

Verywell Health: What are the first steps I should take to address my risk for heart disease?

Dr. Shepherd: Adequate change takes one small step at a time. It’s important to remember this, because disease doesn't happen overnight.

Oftentimes, substantial changes are needed to address heart disease risk, and it can take a long time to see the effects of these efforts. It can be difficult to commit to the lifestyle changes needed when you have to wait to see the benefits.

Addressing your risk for heart disease should include a heart-healthy diet, engaging in physical activity, and reducing stress. However, we see more positive outcomes once we recognize that this is a journey and not a checklist.

We need all people to be able to locate healthy, affordable food options, engage in low-cost physical activity, get access to quality health care, and find representation within the healthcare system. If so, then we can start to see real change. It all starts with how we, as healthcare providers, communicate the necessary interventions and lifestyle habits.

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  1. Morera LP, Marchiori GN, Medrano LA, Defagó MD. Stress, dietary patterns and cardiovascular disease: a mini-reviewFront Neurosci. 2019;13:1226. doi:10.3389/fnins.2019.01226