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Cardiovascular Disease Deaths

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Michelle Fernie started running several years ago … health officials would like to see more Americans following her example.

"It's just kind of a lifestyle change, I feel? It's just kind of part of my life now."

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 200,000 deaths from heart disease and stroke could be avoided each year. More than half of these preventable deaths were people under 65.

"We had big reductions in people over 65, but much smaller reductions in that group of 55-65 year olds. So once you hit 40 or 50 your risk high blood pressure and the harms from smoking are really magnified," says Dr. Tom Frieden.

The CDC says doctors need to encourage healthy habits during every patient visit. Habits like getting more exercise, eating well, maintaining a healthy weight and quitting smoking.

The report also shows men have a higher risk of preventable death. That risk cuts across all races and ethnic groups - but is highest for black men.

"In fact heart disease causes more disparities in health outcomes than any other single cause," says Dr. Frieden.

Fernie plans to keep up her regimen of exercising 4 or 5 times a week.

"I am definitely a lot more in shape. I was always thin but I never actually had muscle tone."

She says she now calls herself a running addict-an addiction she's proud of.

The report also shows counties in the Southern States have the greatest risk of dying from preventable death.

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