Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States. However, many of these deaths can be prevented with the proper precautions.

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1. Understand your risk

People who have high blood pressure or cholesterol, diabetes, are overweight, or have a history of smoking or cardiac conditions in their family are at an increased risk of developing heart disease. Men are more likely to develop cardiac issues after age 45, while the risk increases for women after menopause around age 55.

2. Go for regular checkups

If you have heart disease, see your doctor as recommended and do not skip appointments. You may find it helpful to write down a list of questions before your visit. If concerns arise between appointments, such as a new symptom or a change in medication, call your Summit Medical Group physician or cardiac case manager.

3. Maintain a healthy weight

Packing on extra pounds can increase your risk for heart disease. If you are overweight or obese, try to lose weight by eating nutritious foods and exercising regularly. In particular, people who carry excess fat around their belly—a waist circumference of more than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men—are more likely to develop heart disease and diabetes.

4. Eat nutritious foods

Fill your plate with healthy foods, including lean proteins, such as chicken or fish, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Avoid meals that are high in salt, fat, cholesterol, and sugars. Processed meals, such as frozen dinners and takeout food, are often filled with salt. Ditch sugary drinks, such as soda and juice, which can increase your blood sugar levels and add extra calories. Nutritionists at Summit Medical Group can help you create individualized dietary plans.

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5. Stay active

Get moving at least five days a week for 30 minutes. Cardiovascular exercise is anything that keeps your heart pumping such as walking, swimming, or biking. Change your exercise routine so you do not get bored. Remember to get clearance from your physician before you start any new workout plan.

6. Reduce stress

Anxiety and depression can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle, which puts strain on the heart. Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or yoga, and leisure activities, like gardening or scrapbooking, can help reduce your stress level. Talk to your health care provider if you have prolonged feelings of sadness or worry.   

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