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The Simplest Way to Avoid a Heart Attack, Say Doctors

Top doctors around the country share their healthiest habits—in one big heart-to-heart.

When you want to build muscle, you go to a personal trainer. When you want to build your heart muscle, well, who better to treat, protect and feed the organ pumping literal lifeblood through your veins than a cardiologist?

Eat This, Not That! Health went straight to the country's best to ask how they keep their tickers in tip-top shape. Given that heart disease is the leading killer of both men and women in the United States—and it makes up about one in every four deaths—we're glad we did.

Here's a scary stat: People who regularly eat fast food consume 50 percent more than the recommended daily intake for sodium, according to a study published in the AHA journal Circulation.

While the American Heart Association recommends 2,300 mg of sodium a day maximum, the average adult consumes more than 3,400 mg. This can spell trouble for your health because sodium is one of the leading contributors to high blood pressure, one of the risk factors for heart disease and heart attacks.

Avoid those risks by limiting added salt as much as possible.

"For packaged foods, the nutrition fact panel may be useful in identifying lower sodium products, and for menu items, diners can request sodium content information," said the study's lead researcher, Lisa J. Harnack, Dr.PH., professor at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. "Also, if you frequently add salt to food at the table or in home food preparation, consider using less."

The American Heart Association recommends getting in 75 minutes of moderately intense exercise every week to keep your ticker going strong—a number that can seem impossible with the demands of work and family life.

The solution? Work your workout into your everyday life, like Roger Blumenthal, MD, a cardiologist at Johns Hopkins Medicine.

"I wear a pedometer each day to monitor the number of steps I walk a day," says the American Heart Association volunteer expert. "I try to make 7,500 steps—about three miles—my minimum each and every day. If one does not have a pedometer they can often track the number of steps and distance walked on a smartphone (like the iPhone) or on a FitBit or Apple Watch."

Original article appeared in Eat This Not That!


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