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Heart disease is a killer you can help to control

Heart disease is a killer you can help to control
The climate in Los Angeles makes it easy to get out and get some exercise, one way to reduce your risk of heart disease. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Cancer,

diabetes

, accidents —

heart disease

trumps them all, killing more people in the United States than any other condition.

The term is actually a fairly broad one, encompassing an array of conditions, but it's most often used as shorthand for coronary artery disease. The latter is caused by a buildup of plaque in the arteries that supply blood to the

heart

, which in turn can lead to chest pain, arrythmias,

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heart attacks
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and

heart failure

.

The risk factors:

High blood cholesterol

High blood pressure

Smoking

Diabetes, insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome

Being overweight

Growing older

Family history of heart disease

What you can do:

Get that

high blood pressure

and high cholesterol under control. Now.

Exercise. More.

Stop smoking.

Control your stress, which, of course, you have, instead of letting it control you.

Lose weight if you need to (no kidding yourself).

As for age and family history, simply consider those a reminder to take your risk seriously.

For more information:

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