Heart Month: Is Your Lifestyle Affecting Your Heart?
- February is American Heart Month, and in honor of this observance, it’s important to determine what lifestyle changes we can make to help avoid heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States.
- If you smoke, you’re automatically at an increased risk of developing heart disease. Also, second-hand smoke, obesity and stress can increase the risk.
- To decrease your risk of heart disease, maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, don’t smoke and limit alcohol intake.
You may think that because heart disease doesn’t run in your family, you’re not at risk for developing it. News flash: your lifestyle, and other factors, can greatly affect your chances of developing heart disease! You should also know that the majority of heart disease is caused by risk factors that can be controlled, treated or modified.
February is American Heart Month, and in honor of this observance, it’s important to determine what lifestyle changes we can make to help avoid heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States.
“If you smoke, you’re automatically at an increased risk of developing heart disease,” says Edward LaPorta, M.D., chief of the Section of Cardiology at Delaware County Memorial Hospital. “Second-hand smoke also increases your risk, so you should encourage those around you to quit. It’s also a good idea to try to avoid going to places that you know will be smoky. Obesity is a major cause of heart disease, so eating fast food, processed food and junk food should be avoided. And finally, stress increases the risk of heart disease and heart attacks. Stress is sometimes unavoidable, but if you experience a lot of stress and anxiety, you should speak to your health care provider about possible treatment options.”
It’s important to make lifestyle changes to avoid the potential risk factors that are controllable.
Ancil Jones, M.D.
“Maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, don’t smoke and limit alcohol intake,” says Ancil Jones, M.D., chief of the Division of Cardiology at Crozer-Chester Medical Center. “By doing this, you can lower your risk of getting heart disease. Also, make sure to have your blood pressure and other check-ups on a regular basis.”
If you or someone you know suffers from medical problems that can lead to heart disease, you should consult your physician — and encourage your family members/friends to do the same.
Samuel R. Ruby,
“Conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol can cause a person to be at an increased risk for heart disease, so it’s important to take any prescribed medication that you have to treat those disorders,” says Samuel R. Ruby, M.D., chief of the Section of Cardiology at Taylor Hospital. “Also, genetics can play a role in increasing people’s risk of getting heart disease, but it’s much less of a risk factor than the other medical problems and lifestyle habits — like smoking, obesity and high blood pressure. Remember to give your physician a complete family history so that you can discuss your risk factors together.”
“There are many types of heart disease, and it’s good to know the most common symptoms. Men most often have symptoms like chest pain and pressure, and/or shortness of breath with exertion,” says Domenic Pisano, D.O., chief of the Division of Medicine at Springfield Hospital. “The symptoms usually resolve in 5-10 minutes of rest. Women’s symptoms may be vaguer—like effort intolerance, palpitations and/or fatigue. Patients should consult their physician if they have symptom of heart disease, especially if they have risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, elevated cholesterol, family history and/or a history of smoking.”
For information about Crozer-Keystone Health System’s Cardiac Services or to request an appointment with a cardiologist, call 1-866-95-PULSE (1-866-957-8573).