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What can I do to improve my heart health?

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Dear Doctors,

After a long battle with heart disease, my mother died last year. What can I do to improve my heart health?


Dear Worried,

I’m so sorry that you lost your mother. Heart disease claims about a million lives each year; it is the No. 1 cause of death for women and men in the United States. Here’s how you can take action to significantly decrease your risk of heart disease.

Know your history

If any of your immediate family members developed heart disease, your own heart is at an increased risk.

Team up with your doctor

Talk with your physician about your concerns and ask how you can boost your overall health.

Learn your numbers

Request a full physical and blood screening to check your weight, blood pressure, blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels. Review these numbers with your doctor and discuss ways you can lower any dangerously high results.

Quit smoking

Even a casual habit greatly increases your chances of developing heart disease and other serious ailments.

Power up your plate

For heart-healthy meals, choose vegetables, fruit, whole grains and fish. Avoid foods that are high in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium.

Get moving

Exercising for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, can help ward off heart disease. You don’t have to join a gym — walking works.

Drop a few pounds

For most people, a weight loss of five to 10 pounds can help prevent high blood pressure and diabetes, both of which are serious risk factors for heart disease.

These simple lifestyle changes can help you protect your most vital organ for a lifetime of good health. Bravo to you for taking steps to keep your heart strong!

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