TAMPA, Fla — Cardiovascular disease is the nation’s number one killer, but doctors say it doesn't have to be that way.
Doctors say 80 percent of it is preventable with healthy choices including diet and exercise.
The executive director of American Heart Association Tampa Bay, Amanda Palumbo, explains how eating right and getting moving can make a difference.
She says the American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week or a combination of the two.
The difference between those two is: Can you really carry on a comfortable conversation? If you can, it's moderate activity, and if not, it's considered vigorous.
Another place to take control is in the kitchen through the choices you make for your meals.
"It really isn't that difficult if you just focus on your portion sizes, on eating a colorful healthy diet, make sure you're including your fruits and vegetables, lean protein, low-fat dairy," Palumbo said.
She encourages people to avoid empty calories like sugar-filled sodas and candy or processed foods. Those choices have little to no nutritional value.
While a vast majority of our cardiovascular health can be controlled through our choices, Palumbo explained the other 20 percent is hereditary. That’s why it’s important to maintain routine visits to the doctor and to know your numbers.
"Know your blood pressure, know your blood sugar, your cholesterol, your weight. Those are all things you should know. The American Heart Association’s website includes tools to help you identify a healthy range," she said.
If you have any concerns about your heart health or symptoms of stroke or heart attack, Palumbo says the key is to act fast and seek care immediately.
If you think you or a loved one are having a stroke, remember the word FAST. It stands for symptoms including face drooping, arm weakness, slurred speech and time.
Warning signs of heart attack can present differently but include discomfort in the chest, nausea or vomiting, jaw pain, and shortness of breath.