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Six simple steps to remain heart healthy

hands make heart shape

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, and it has been estimated as the underlying cause of death for one out of four deaths in the United States, according to the American Heart Association. But you’re never too old or too young to make lifestyle changes that can help prevent heart disease. 

“Regular checkups with your primary care physician can help you stay on track with your health,” says Vanessa Cook, MD, Ascension Medical Group’s newest family medicine provider. 

Dr. Cook recommends these simple steps to remaining heart healthy:

  • Watch what you eat: The food you eat can decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke. Choose foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium, and eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and fiber-rich whole grains.
  • Exercise regularly: Incorporate physical activity into your daily routine to remain heart healthy. Experts recommend at least 30 minutes of physical activity five times per week. Exercise can be anything that gets your body moving and as easy as taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese are risk factors for cardiovascular disease. For overweight or obese adults with other risk factors such as high blood pressure, a weight loss of 3-5 percent of body weight can produce clinically significant results in preventing heart disease.
  • Stop smoking: Being smoke-free can help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as cancer and chronic lung disease. 
  • Limit your alcohol intake: Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure and increase the chances of a stroke. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Experts recommend no more than two drinks per day.
  • Manage other health conditions: Manage health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure and cholesterol. Each is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease that can be managed through a healthy diet, physical activity, and in some cases, medication.

For those who need additional help, Via Christi offers weight management experts to help patients lose a few pounds.

An annual visit with your primary care physician is an important step in managing your overall health, and patients who are managing a health condition such as cardiovascular disease may need to visit their primary care physician more frequently. To find a doctor, go to

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