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The American Heart Association says awareness and prevention are key in the fight against heart disease, especially when it comes to recognizing risk factors. Many of us blame our health problems on heredity, but you can increase your chances of getting heart disease just the choices you may every day.
"It's kind of like Russian Roulette with your health. You know, you're just banking on 'I'm the lucky one. That I can live that long,' but the reality is it's still what's killing most people," says Community Health Planner, Jodi Stones.
Yet, there are some risk factors you can't change that put you at risk for developing heart disease. These include age, gender, and race.
"If you have a family history of cardiovascular disease, this is something you cannot change, but you should target the risk factors you can modify, " says cardiologist Abdul Hay Albirini.
"The majority of the time, it's things we can really try to work on to be healthier, " says Stones.
The risk factors we can target and zone in on include: smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, lack of exercise, poor diet and nutrition, obesity, alcohol, and stress, but Stones says a lot of us don't want to work to change these risk factors.
"Sometimes it's just laziness. People have to just motivate to take care of themselves. We just tend to be a lazy society, " says Stones.
That's why Stones says it's so important to find a way to motivate yourself. Do it so you can see your kids grow up. Do it so you can help take care of your parents as they age. Do it so you can watch your business grow. It's the first step to bettering your health.
"Go to the doctor regularly-once a year-and get your numbers checked. Know those numbers, and women, know them like you know your dress size. Sometimes we don't want to share the dress size, but know them, " says American Heart Association Communication Director, Brianne Harman.
Putting those risk factors in the back of your mind has proven to be deadly though. That's why the American Heart Association wants to help. It's 2020 goal is to improve cardiovascular health by targeting risk factors.