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February is Heart Health Month and according to the American Heart Association there are seven steps to follow to help control your risk for heart disease.

Get Active - Daily physical activity increases your length and quality of life.  If you get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day (like brisk walking), five times per week, you can almost guarantee yourself a healthier and more satisfying life while lowing your risks for heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Control cholesterol - When you control your cholesterol, you are giving your arteries their best chance to remain clear of blockage.

Eat Better - Healthy foods are the fuel our bodies use to make new cells and create the energy we need to thrive and fight diseases.  The following are the American Heart Association’s basic tips for better nutrition: Eat more fruits and vegetables; eat fiber rich whole grain foods; eat fish twice a week; cut back on added sugars; and track what you eat with a food diary

Manage blood pressure - High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.  When your blood pressure stays within healthy ranges, you reduce the strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys which keeps you healthier longer.

Lose Weight - You can successfully reduce your risk for heart disease by keeping your weight in a healthy range.  Even dropping five to 10 pounds can have a positive impact.

Reduce Blood Sugar - Although diabetes is treatable and you can live a healthy life with this condition, even when glucose levels are under control it greatly increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.  Remember to take all medications and/or insulin as directed by your doctor and remain physically active.

Stop smoking - Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease.  If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health.  Smoking damages your entire circulatory system, and increases your risk for coronary heart disease, hardened arteries, aneurysm and blood clots.


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