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A Heart-Healthy Action Plan

Are you taking care of your heart? Are you monitoring your blood pressure, moving regularly, keeping your weight in check and staying smoke-free? Well, you’re not alone. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), most folks aren’t acting on these keys to heart-healthy living.

Heart disease is the #1 killer of American men and women as a result.

There are roughly 1.2 million heart attacks each year, and more than 40 percent of those suffering from a heart attack will die. What’s even more worrisome is that 310,000 people with heart attacks will die in emergency departments or before ever reaching the hospital because they either missed the warning signs or waited too long to be seen, according to the AHA.

So it’s critical that you make heart-friendly, lifestyle choices right now. What you do today may help lower your risk factors for heart disease and improve your health outcomes in the future. Here are 10 action steps to help lower your risk for heart disease.

  1. Monitor your blood pressure: Hypertension or high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. It should be less than 140/90, if you are an adult. (Many pharmacies and grocery stores have coin-operated blood pressure machines that are simple to use and available to the public. So, get into the habit of checking your blood pressure.
    Take action: View this video which shows you the basics of “How to Monitor Your Blood Pressure.”
  2. Get moving: Studies reveal that physical inactivity increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and the development of other risk factors (i.e., diabetes and high blood pressure). Try walking at least three times per week for 30 minutes per session as a low-cost and easy way to up your weekly physical activity.
    Take action: Start logging your activity using this activity tracker.
  3. Lose 10 pounds: A loss of just 10 pounds can help lower your heart disease risk, as well as your diabetes risk factors. Concentrate on improving your nutritional choices by making lower fat and higher fiber food selections.
    Take action: Get tips on how to be a “Health-Wise Shopper.”
  4. Take a blood test:  A person's cholesterol level is affected by age, sex, heredity and diet. Have a blood test to determine your total blood cholesterol level. A good cholesterol level is less than 200 mg/dl.
    Take action: Take this High-Risk Cholesterol: Myth vs. Facts Quiz.
  5. Quit smoking: Smokers have twice the risk of a heart attack than non-smokers.
    Take action: Test your readiness to quit smoking using this interactive tool.
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