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Life Lessons: 7 Simple Steps to Prevent Heart Disease

Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in this country. Every 60 seconds, someone in the U.S. dies from a heart disease-related event. So how can you protect yourself?

Your heart is the most important muscle in your body. If it doesn’t work, you don’t work.

So, how can you prevent heart disease? First, stop smoking.

About one in every five deaths from heart disease is directly related to smoking. But if you quit, you can reverse the damage fast. Within 20 minutes of your last cigarette, your heart rate will begin to drop back to normal.

Next get your blood pressure under control. About 30 percent of Americans have high blood pressure, but about 14 percent don’t even know it.

Next, lose weight.

“If everybody in America lost 10 pounds, the health of this nation would skyrocket,” said Dr. William C.  Roberts, executive director of the Baylor Heart and Vascular Institute.

Also eat more fruits and veggies and less sugar, sodium and red meat. One study by the EPIC Oxford found vegetarian diets can reduce the risk of hospitalization or death from heart disease by almost one-third.

Exercise is also a heart disease fighter. The American Heart Association says get at least two and a half hours of moderate physical activity each week to help your heart.

Lastly, your friends could be the key to good health. The University of California found women with larger, more supportive social networks were less likely to smoke, be overweight or have high blood pressure.

Keeping your blood sugar and cholesterol levels in check is also important to help reduce your risk of heart disease. High levels of bad cholesterol can clog your arteries and increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. And heart disease death rates among adults with diabetes are two to four times higher compared to those of people who don’t have diabetes.

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