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Heart disease is the number one cause of death in America, affecting men and women of all races and ethnicities. Heart attacks alone affect 935,000 Americans every year, with 35% of those being recurring attacks. While the month of February is dedicated to raising awareness about this national epidemic, you can show your heart some love all year round by making life-saving changes to your diet and routine.

What causes heart disease?

A poor diet, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and lack of physical activity are all factors that can contribute to heart complications. On your next office visit, ask your doctor to evaluate your BMI, blood pressure and cholesterol. If your numbers are outside of the healthy range, work with your doctor to develop a diet and exercise plan you can follow to lower your blood pressure and bad cholesterol.

A heart healthy diet

Start keeping track of what you eat on a daily basis by creating a food journal. A food journal will help you and your doctor determine what areas of your diet you need to change and will help keep you accountable when you put your doctor’s plan to work.

A diet that is high in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium causes weight gain and increases your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. A heart healthy diet incorporates foods that are high in fiber and contain good fats, including monosaturated fats and Omega-3s found in olive oil, nuts and fish.

Often times, making simple swaps can lead to a significant improvement in your overall health. For example, try using ground turkey as a substitute for recipes that call for ground beef. It’s high in protein and contains less saturated fat than beef.

Drink more water

Drinking water could lower your risk of a heart attack. According to a six-year study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, people who drank more than five glasses of water per day were 41% less likely to die from a heart attack than those who drank less than two glasses.

Make exercise a priority

Your heart is a muscle, and just like other muscles, it needs to be exercised daily in order to stay healthy. In fact, Prevention Magazine states that exercising as little as 20 minutes each day can reduce your risk of having a heart attack by up to 33%. The best workout routines for your heart incorporate a variation of cardiovascular exercise and strength training.

By developing these heart healthy habits, you’ll feel better, live longer and prevent serious health complications that can lead to heart disease.

What are some healthy heart habits you’ve incorporated into your daily routine?

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