Cardiologist offers heart healthy advice
February is American Heart Month. We sat down with a board-certified cardiologist with Swedish Covenant Medical Group, to gain insight on how to best take care of your heart.
1. What’s the most important thing to know about heart health?
Cardiovascular disease remains the number one cause of death in our population. Minimizing risk factors of cardiovascular disease by not smoking, achieving optimal cholesterol levels, exercising regularly, monitoring your blood pressure and knowing your family history remains the best defense in reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and improving long term health.
It is also important to let your primary care provider know of any potential symptoms of cardiovascular disease, including chest pain, shortness of breath and fatigue. Often times patients may not perceive symptoms, but may not be able to do as much as they used to. Before declaring that it’s due to aging, it’s important to rule out undiagnosed cardiovascular disease.
If you have been diagnosed with a cardiovascular disease, it’s important to visit your health care provider regularly as treatments can change over time and medications need adjusting.
2. How important are diet and exercise?
While the population overall has done a great job with reducing tobacco use, I see the obesity epidemic as a major problem. We are seeing coronary artery disease, heart attacks, diabetes and vascular disease in younger people. Achieving an optimal weight and the manner in which we do so is extremely important. In addition to staying active and exercising regularly
, following a Mediterranean diet low in saturated fat is the best way to reduce the risk of heart disease.
3. What should a patient consider if they need a heart procedure?
Sometimes, patients will need cardiovascular procedures
such as an angiogram, stent/angioplasty or bypass surgery. Patients should always ask their provider for details about why the procedure is necessary, whether there are alternative options and what to expect following the procedure, including necessary medications. It’s important to establish a relationship with a provider that you feel comfortable with. Often times, seeking a second opinion can be invaluable.
4. Why should patients continue with cardiac rehab following a heart procedure?
There are many reasons to continue with cardiac rehab following a heart procedure. First and foremost, the process of building cardiovascular fitness after a procedure is more safely performed under the supervision and guidance of certified health care providers. Through exercise and education with health care professionals, patients participating in cardiac rehab gain the physical strength and conditioning and psychological confidence they need to manage their cardiovascular disease and are afforded the best chance at good cardiovascular outcomes and overall wellbeing.
It also provides cardiologists with an opportunity to evaluate a patient’s cardiac status through instant and continuous feedback from the rehab program, which allows for better treatment.
By David Modica | Published February 1, 2017