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KEEP YOUR TICKER IN TIPTOP SHAPE

If you think that heart health is something only older people need to think about, first know the numbers.
“Heart disease is still the number one killer of men and women over age 20,” says family medicine physician Sandra Arango- Fahmy, D.O. “There are steps you can take – starting right now – that will help you keep your ticker in tiptop shape. Schedule an annual physical today and ask your doctor to help you improve your heart health.”
Start by learning your family history of heart disease, says Dr. Fahmy. “Like so many other health conditions, your genes influence your heart disease risk. Fortunately, making lifestyle changes can dramatically lower the likelihood of repeating your family’s heart health history.”
You can count on one hand these simple tips to keep your ticker in tiptop shape:
Know Your Numbers.
“You owe it to yourself to take an active role in your own health,” says Dr. Fahmy. Your doctor can test your cholesterol and blood pressure through a simple screening. If the numbers aren’t optimal, along with your weight, your doctor can help bring them in line by recommending medication, and diet and lifestyle changes.
Quit Smoking For Good.
As soon as you go cold turkey your heart will start rebounding. Smoking dramatically increases the risk of heart disease and is one of the most preventable causes of premature death. In addition, when you stop smoking, you help lower your blood pressure and lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol. “If you want to live longer, stop smoking. There are many smoking cessation programs and support groups available to help you kick the habit of tobacco dependence,” says Dr. Fahmy. Even being around smoke increases the risk for heart disease and death. Avoid secondhand smoke whenever possible.
Process Out Processd Foods.
In 2013, try switching out just one processed food each month for something you make yourself. Switching over from processed foods, which are usually high in sodium, can make a big difference in your blood pressure and overall health. Load up on salads and whole grains, keep salt and sugar to a minimum, and of course, control portions to keep weight gain to a minimum.
Get Moving.
Your heart is a muscle and like all muscles, working it out keeps it healthy by strengthening tissue and improving circulation. “It’s easy to be sedentary,” says Dr. Fahmy, “particularly if you drive to work and sit at a computer all day. Small steps can make a big difference.” Try parking further away from the office, choosing the stairs, taking a walk after lunch and standing up every hour at your desk to stretch. If you have a pedometer, aim for 10,000 steps a day. If not, try to get 20 to 30 minutes of moderate activity a day, or 150 minutes a week.
Spread Awareness.
It still comes as a surprise to many people when they learn that heart disease is the number one killer of men and women over age 20. It’s up to all of us to inform our circle of family and friends about heart risks and the actions a person can take to minimize those risks. What seems like a simple conversation could save someone’s life.

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