<< Back

5 Health Conditions That Show Up In Your 30s

June 27, 2024

Your 30s are the time of stability for most people, whether it’s in your career, relationships or personal goals. And it’s also a crucial decade for your health – your 30s are when a number of chronic conditions can take root.

“Even though genetics plays a role, living a healthy lifestyle is your best defense,” says Michael O’Neill, MD, primary care provider with Hartford HealthCare Medical Group.

We asked Dr. O’Neill to help us understand the health conditions to look out for in your 30s and what you can do to ensure a long, healthy future.

Find a doctor near me

Start here

1. High cholesterol

High cholesterol among younger adults is more common than you think. One study estimated that 27% of 18- to 39-year-olds have borderline high or high cholesterol.

Too much bad cholesterol, known as LDL cholesterol, contributes to plaque buildup in your arteries. Over time, the plaque can make it harder for blood to flow or break off suddenly, leading to a heart attack or stroke.

Dr. O’Neill recommends lowering your bad cholesterol by:

  • Eating low-inflammatory foods like protein, fruits and vegetables
  • Avoiding high-inflammatory foods like carbohydrates, sugar, refined oils and anything highly processed.

2. Prediabetes

According to the CDC, as many as 1 in 4 young adults ages 19 to 34 are living with prediabetes — a health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but are not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Prediabetes often develops because of insulin resistance, where your body doesn’t respond well to insulin. This can lead to uncontrolled blood sugar levels and, eventually, diabetes.

Foods like carbohydrates, refined sugars and artificial sweeteners can spike insulin levels, worsening resistance.

To lower your diabetes risk, focus on:

  • A balanced diet low in carbs and sugars
  • Moderating alcohol intake
  • Watching calorie intake

“Staying at a healthy weight is also important. Being overweight or obese makes insulin resistance worse, so make sure you exercise and eat a balanced diet to stay lean and reduce your risk of diabetes,” advises Dr. O’Neill.

> Related: 3 Health Conditions That Show Up in Your 20s

3. High blood pressure

Around 1 in 8 young adults between the ages of 20 and 40 have high blood pressure, defined as any reading higher than 120/80 mmHg.

High blood pressure forces your heart to work harder to circulate blood, and can also cause arteries to narrow or harden over time. Even if you’re in your 30s, elevated blood pressure is a one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease and stroke later in life.

The best way to reduce your risk of high blood pressure in your 30s is to:

  • Manage your sodium intake and eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a healthy wait
  • Limit alcohol
  • Avoid smoking

4. Dementia

Dementia doesn’t just happen in old age – its roots can grow much earlier in life.

Lifestyle choices you make in your 30s can play a big role in your risk of developing dementia later down the road.

Staying socially connected with friends and family close is one of the best ways to keep your mind sharp and reduce your risk of dementia. Adding mentally stimulating activities to your daily routine can also help.

Living a healthy lifestyle, with a good diet and physical activity, and reducing your alcohol consumption and nicotine consumption can also help. And be sure to treat any other health conditions that could adversely affect brain health.

“There’s evidence that insulin resistance can lead to neurodegeneration, and Alzheimer’s, similar to dementia, is sometimes called type 3 diabetes,” explains Dr. O’Neill.

> Want more health news? Text StartHere to 85209 to sign up for text alerts

5. Cancer risk

While genetics can influence your risk of many cancers, lifestyle factors like inflammation and bad habits can increase your risk significantly. The good news is you have the power to reduce these risks.

“Absolutely avoid smoking,” says Dr. O’Neill. “Smoking is a known cause of many forms of cancer.”

Research also links inflammatory foods like cooking oils, fast foods and highly processed foods to certain types of cancer.

Prevention starts with a trip to the doctor.

The key to health in your 20s starts with a healthy lifestyle — but regular check-ins with a doctor can go a long way.

“The best way for you to prevent, detect and manage these conditions is with regular checkups with your primary care provider,” reiterates Dr. O’Neill.