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STATE WIDE–Heart disease is one of the biggest health problems in the United States. One in four people may have some form of heart disease and may be at risk for a heart attack or stroke. You may be at risk because Indiana is number 10 for chronic heart disease and number 13 out of the 50 states for chronic heart disease deaths.

“Many of the factors that lead to heart disease, relate to our lifestyle in terms of our ability to eat the right things, move the right way, be physically active,” said Dr. Nekela Cook, spokesperson for the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Some of those factors ring true. They are the same things that put Hoosiers at more risk for diabetes and hypertension.

“We know that the factors that increase the likelihood of a person developing heart disease include smoking, being overweight, having diabetes, having unhealthy cholesterol levels and having a family history of heart disease,” said Cook.

If you find yourself in one or more of those categories, you’re in vast company.

“A state like Indiana ends up in that range because the rest of the country is also facing the same epidemic and we have to do something about it across the board,” said Cook.

She said the Institute’s “Our Hearts” campaign for February, American Heart Month, is meant to encourage people to be active and eat a healthy diet, to make small changes and big ones that affect the likelihood of getting heart disease.

“We’re really encouraging people to move more and follow a heart-healthy eating plan and to do that by making small changes by partnering up with people like your partner, family or friends. Help them commit and to commit with you.”

Cook said you should practice strenuous activities that get your heart pumping and she recommends the DASH diet to help control blood pressure and the risk for heart disease.

LINK: Info on the DASH Diet

PHOTO: Chris Davis/Emmis