Heart Health Tips To Show Your Heart Some Love
by Lauren S. Roman, MD
Catskill Regional Medical Group Medical Director
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. The New York State Department of Health reports that Sullivan County holds true to that trend as well. In fact, the consequences of heart disease extend well beyond the Catskills and the United States – it has become the leading cause of death worldwide.
While heart disease is an umbrella term that refers to a number of potential heart-related conditions, the most common type of these in the United States is coronary artery disease (CAD), which occurs when plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart and other parts of the body. The first sign of CAD is often a heart attack. Heart disease can also lead to heart failure, which is a condition that causes poor performance or functioning of the heart itself.
Lifestyle Choices to Help Make Your Heart Healthy
Fortunately, many of the risk factors that lead to heart disease, and hence heart failure, are very modifiable. By rethinking some of the everyday lifestyle choices we make, like what and how much we eat, whether or not we smoke, how much exercise we get, we can lower our risk of developing heart disease.
Being overweight or obese is a serious risk factor for developing heart disease, as is living a sedentary lifestyle, and these tend to go together in many people. Adding even ten to twenty minutes of physical activity to your day can make an impact on your health. As far as what to eat, a healthy diet consists of just what you’d expect:
- Lots of fruits and vegetables
- Multigrain and whole grains
- Lean meats and meals that are overall low in saturated fats.
So, get moving and stay away from processed foods.
Factors That May Increase Your Risk For Heart Disease
Certain other medical conditions can also increase your risk for heart disease, including:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
Again, these are issues you can regain control of by forming healthy diet and exercise habits, under the guidance of a healthcare provider.
The Correlation Between Heart and Dental Health
Something people often forget about heart health, or perhaps may not even know, is that poor dentition and dental infection are also risk factors that have been related to heart disease. Although they are not shown to directly cause heart issues, the correlation between heart and dental health is important to consider. Along with daily brushing and flossing, consider tooth varnishing in those 6 months to 6 years of age. This is a coating that is brushed onto the surfaces of the teeth, which helps prevent or slow cavities. It’s something we offer at Catskill Regional Primary Care locations as a service to children in our community, and I recommend it.
Family History of Heart Disease
Your doctor can also help with a key non-modifiable risk factor – family history. If you have a history of heart disease, it is important to let your doctor know so that they can help you make the right lifestyle and medical choices to avoid developing issues or treat them appropriately should they become unavoidable. Regular check-ups also help because many symptoms of heart-related issues are difficult to detect on your own.
Know The Early Signs of a Heart Attack
Knowing the early signs of a heart attack can save your life. A typical heart attack will present as chest pressure with accompanying left jaw or left arm heaviness. You may also become abnormally sweaty, and some heart attack sufferers experience nausea. Women and diabetics can also experience abdominal pain or heart burn as a symptom of a heart attack. If any of these happen to you, your best course of action is to immediately chew an aspirin and then get to the emergency room.
There is no wrong time to begin a discussion on heart health with a doctor – the younger, the better. Being proactive rather than reactive when it comes to matters of the heart is really the way to go. To get started, take stock of your own modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors and make an appointment.
All content presented are provided for informational and educational purposes only, and are not intended to approximate or replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read within the website content. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.