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Healthy Heart, Healthy Life

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among Americans, with Blacks making up 24.5 percent of fatalities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Aiming to break the cycle, the Association of Black Cardiologists shares easy solutions for a healthy heart at any age.

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Be Spiritually Active

Life can be stressful, and studies have shown how this can adversely affect your overall health. Whether through attending a worship service or meditating in your own home, being spirituality active can bring a sense of meaning to your life, help you cope in challenging situations and can bring opportunities to connect with others.

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Take Charge of Your Blood Pressure

An estimated 40 percent of African-Americans suffer from high blood pressure (also called hypertension) and are at higher risking for developing it than other racial/ethnic groups. Because some people have no symptoms, it's important to have your blood pressure checked regularly by a healthcare professional. It is a quick and painless way to safeguard your health.

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Control Your Cholesterol

Your body needs some cholesterol—a waxy, fat-like substance—to function properly. But too much cholesterol, present in items like fried foods and red meat, will force your body to store it in your arteries and increase your risk for heart disease. Starting at age 20, the ABC recommends a doctor check your body for HDL ("good" cholesterol) and LDL ("bad" cholesterol) at least every five years.

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Track Your Blood Sugar

Each year, of the more than 25.8 million Americans with diabetes, about 2 out of 3 die from heart disease or stroke. Diabetes results when too much glucose builds up in the blood, which can lead to serious complications such as blindness, kidney failure and lower-extremity amputations.

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Eat Smart and Exercise

Eating fresh fruit and veggies each day not only can help shrink your waist, but also your chances for developing heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. A low-fat diet made up of whole grains, lean meats, fresh fruits and vegetables is enhanced by 30 minutes of physical activity. Start small by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or park at the far end of the parking lot so you end up walking farther.

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Don't Use Tobacco

Smoking cigarettes or using other tobacco products greatly increases your risk for developing coronary heart disease, stroke and lung cancer. As cravings are often triggered by emotional situations, people or even locations, the ABC says it is important to keep a log of these triggers so you can overcome them in the future.

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Access Better Health Care

Don't ignore any health problems you may be experiencing because it is better to have them resolved early when there are more opportunities for treatment. Take advantage of the healthcare benefits provided by your employer, or seek out your own privately. Alternatively, if you cannot afford health insurance, identify public clinics in your neighborhood and utilize their services, the ABC says.

For More Information: Click here to read the ABC's complete guide on heart health, or visit