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February is Heart Month

Toni-Ann DiSantis

It’s not hard to reduce your risk for heart disease! Start today with small, simple actions like these:

- Celebrate with a checkup. Let each birthday remind you that it’s time for your yearly checkup and a talk with your doctor about how you can reduce your risk for heart disease.

- Get off the couch. Step, march or jog in place for at least 30 minutes five days a week, you can even do it while watching TV.

- Quit smoking in four steps. Can’t go "cold turkey"? Cut the number of cigarettes you smoke each day in half; then cut that number in half; cut it in half again; finally, cut down to zero!

- Drop a pound or two. Cutting out just 500 to 1000 calories a day can help you lose one to two pounds per week and gradually bring you closer to a heart-healthy weight. To help you stay on track, keep daily records of your calorie intake.

- Become a salt detective. Check out the Nutrition Facts panel on packaged foods to see how much sodium (salt) they contain. Aim for a total intake of no more than 2,300 milligrams (about a teaspoon of salt) per day.

- Learn how to read food package labels to help you make healthier choices. And look for the American Heart Association’s heart-check mark on food packages in your store. They’re certified to be low in saturated fat and cholesterol.