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Weekend Doctor

By PAUL BERLACHER, MD
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. While some risks like family history, age or race cannot be modified, here are some things you can do to reduce your risk:
• Know the facts. Knowing your family history and your own health history is important. Ask family members about their health history and have your blood pressure and cholesterol checked routinely. Sharing this information with your physician is critical in preventing potential heart problems.
• Tackle the stress. When people are stressed, they are more likely to overeat, skip the gym, drink and smoke. Find calming activities to de-stress and don’t forget to nurture supportive relationships. People with a supportive social circle not only have more fun, but they enjoy healthier, less stressful lives.
• Kick the habit. Smokers have more than twice the risk for heart attack than nonsmokers. That’s because chemicals in tobacco smoke decrease good cholesterol levels, damage blood vessels and raise blood pressure. Kicking the habit is an important step in the road to heart health.
• Eat heart-friendly foods. Choose foods that will help reduce your risk of heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids are good fats that can be found in nuts, soybeans, oatmeal, ground flax seed, salmon, tuna and many other types of fish. Phytochemicals are found in fruits and vegetables like berries, tomatoes, spinach and broccoli, and also help support a healthy heart.
To learn more about heart health, talk with your doctor.
Dr. Berlacher is a board-certified cardiologist with ProMedica Physicians Cardiology. He provides specialized heart care services to patients at ProMedica Fostoria Community as well as several other locations throughout northwestern Ohio.

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