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Test your ticker and reduce risk factors contributing to heart disease

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- At the beginning of this month many people resolved to get fit, but there can be a difference between fitness and health. Ahead of February's Heart Health Month, now’s a great time to check-in on yourself. Dr. John T. Miller, a cardiologist with Meritas Health Cardiology at North Kansas City Hospital. Dr. Miller, visited the FOX 4 morning show to explain why heart health is so important, and what people can do to help keep their hearts healthy.

Tips to reduce the risk factors that contribute to heart disease:

First - assess your risk. Check into your family history of heart disease and then target what controllable risk factors you can change, for example - stop smoking, lose weight and increase your weekly exercise.

Second - know the signs of a heart attack – especially when it comes to symptoms, which differ for men and women. Women are actually more likely to experience symptoms other than chest pain.

Third - evaluate your diet. Make sure your diet is balanced and includes low sodium and sugar choices and a high intake of fiber… a combination that contributes to a healthy heart.

Fourth - commit to exercising. Moving your body for 20-to-30 minutes, 4-to-5 days a week, improves cardiovascular activity, cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

Lastly, reduce your stress. Chronic stress can wreak havoc on your heart. Try to keep stress to a minimum. Identify what causes you the most stress in life and try to find ways to reduce it.