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    Does Heart Disease Run in Your Family?

    3. Lean In to Your Lifestyle

    Your parents didn’t just give you their genes. You likely share some of their habits, like mom's sweet tooth or dad's hours on the couch watching sports on TV.

    You can't change your mother and father, but you can change your own habits. Studies clearly show that you can lower your risk when you do that. "You can overcome your genes” in that sense, Sorrentino says.

    Do your parents smoke? If you do too, you can quit.

    Are they active? If not, you can be the first in your family to make regular exercise a habit. Go for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity (such as brisk walking) on 5 or more days per week.

    How do they eat? If they ate too much saturated fat or trans fat, think about whether you need to cut back. If they didn’t get enough fiber, you can make it a point to eat more plant foods, which are great sources of fiber. Do they need to lose a lot of weight? If you do, too, ask your doctor for advice to make that happen for yourself.

    You don’t have to follow in your family’s footsteps. Give yourself the freedom to make your own path. It will help your heart and your whole body.

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    Reviewed on April 27, 2015

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