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Strong men make heart health a priority

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The perfect gift this Valentine's Day is the gift of heart health. Along with Valentine's Day, February marks American Heart Month, a great time to commit to a healthy lifestyle and make small changes that can lead to a lifetime of heart health.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women. While Americans of all backgrounds can be at risk for heart disease, African-American men, especially those who live in the southeast region of the United States, are at the highest risk for heart disease.

Additionally, more than 40 percent of African-Americans have high blood pressure, a leading cause of heart disease and stroke.

That's why this February during American Heart Month, Million Hearts is encouraging African-American men to take charge of their health and start one new, heart-healthy behavior that can help reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke.

â ¢ Schedule a visit with your doctor to talk about heart health. It's important to schedule regular check-ups even if you think you are not sick. Partner with your doctor and health care team to set goals for improving your heart health, and don't be afraid to ask questions and trust their advice.

â ¢ Add exercise to your daily routine. Start off the month by walking 15 minutes, three times each week. By mid-month, increase your time to 30 minutes, three times each week.

â ¢ Increase healthy eating. Cook heart-healthy meals at home at least three times each week and make your favorite recipe lower sodium. For example, swap out salt for fresh or dried herbs and spices.

â ¢ Take steps to quit smoking. If you currently smoke, quitting can cut your risk for heart disease and stroke. Learn more at CDC's Smoking and Tobacco Use website.

â ¢ Take medication as prescribed. Talk with your doctor about the importance of high blood pressure and cholesterol medications. If you're having trouble taking your medicines on time or if you're having side effects, ask your doctor for help.

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