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Think heart disease is only for the over-50 set? Not so. Unfortunately, today’s typical American diet—with too much fast food, too much alcohol and too many sugary drinks—is putting even young people between ages 18 and 24 at an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Even though 9 out of 10 college-age adults think they have a healthy lifestyle, less than 1 percent actually do, researchers say.

If you’re a young adult, it’s important to be proactive about your heart health. Start by talking to your doctor about getting appropriate health screenings. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends:

  • Blood pressure screening. Beginning at age 18, all adults should be
    screened for high blood pressure.
  • Cholesterol screening. Men ages 20 to 35 and women ages 20 to 45
    should be screened for cholesterol (lipid) disorders if they are at higher
    risk for coronary heart disease. Talk to your doctor about risk factors,
    which include a family history of heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

Of course, the more you know about your heart, the healthier you can be. Knowing your numbers is key, so John Muir Health offers free blood pressure screenings and comprehensive heart screenings, as well as a full lipid and glucose screening. We also offer a range of heart health classes, including Beat the Pack Smoking Cessation; Cardiac Nutrition; and Let’s Get Moving, a six-week exercise class.