PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – We all know that heart disease is a leading killer in this country but it is surprising how many people do very little to reduce their risk.

Here are some things you need to know.

If you have a family history of heart disease it dramatically increases your risk of having heart problems. If you are overweight or don’t exercise enough it can work against you and increase your risk of heart problems. But there may be no greater risk factor that you can control than cigarette smoking.

Study after study has shown that cigarette smoking increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.

There is a lot of talk about the importance of controlling cholesterol. But the more we learn the more we realize that it is the LDL or bad cholesterol that is of critical importance. Diet definitely plays a role when it comes to cholesterol. You need to avoid the trans fats and saturated fats. To make it simple I suggest that you avoid products that can stay in the pantry for weeks and weeks such as cakes cookies and candies.

It’s hard to go wrong with fruits and vegetables, salad and fish.

When it comes down to it avoiding heart disease is a lifestyle choice and it’s not too late to make those changes.

Reported By Dr. Brian McDonough, KYW Newsradio Medical Editor

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