February is American Heart Month! I know it’s important to take care of my heart health ALL year, but I appreciate a reminder with my busy schedule. Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans. It’s hard to hear that statistic—but it doesn’t have to be. We can change that stat!
This month is a reminder on how to PREVENT heart health issues and, hopefully, one day eliminate it as the number one killer. Dr. Joel Forman is a cardiologist with The Christ Hospital Physicians – Heart & Vascular, and he spent some time answering questions I have about preventative care for my heart (and yours)!
How do I prevent an unhealthy heart?
Right now, I am young and enjoying my life. I go out with friends and keep my schedule booked. I love to indulge in some of my favorite junk foods or share a couple drinks with friends. It’s easy to put my health on the backburner.
Dr. Forman reminds me that it’s also pretty easy to keep my heart health in check: “Preventive cardiovascular care starts with a focus on lifestyle including exercise, healthy diet, not smoking, maintaining a healthy body weight and getting quality sleep.”
This doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy my favorite things. I just need to create healthy habits that I can incorporate into my everyday life. The Christ Hospital has a great program to keep everything on track.
Dr. Forman explains, “The preventive cardiology program is a specialized clinic designed to focus on avoiding the development of cardiovascular diseases, rather than waiting for those processes to develop. We can develop an individualized plan to assess risk, rule out active disease processes and treat risk factors for cardiovascular disease.”
How much of a role does family history play in heart health?
I’m at the age where I’ve started asking my parents about my family’s health history — especially when it comes to our hearts. “Family history is but one of multiple risk factors for cardiovascular disease,” says Dr. Forman.
My dad recently shared that his dad (my grandpa) had heart issues. It’s a little scary knowing that I’m at risk myself. However, Dr. Forman clarifies, “The most meaningful family history is in first-degree relatives—parents, siblings, children. The impact of a family history really depends on the disease process being addressed.”
I have a primary care doctor at The Christ Hospital, and Dr. Forman says that is a great place to start. “The basis of preventive care is the primary care physician. Consultation with a preventive cardiologist should be considered should there be concern regarding more refined assessment of risk, or further questions about appropriate treatment of common risk factors of cardiovascular disease.”
Is there anything else I should know about heart health?
“We would rather shut the faucet than mop the floor,” adds Dr. Forman. This is a great analogy of how important preventative care is. I am using this month as a reminder that heart health can be easier to maintain if I start NOW.
Dr. Forman explains, “Analyses have shown that the reduction in sickness and death from cardiovascular disease in recent decades is driven more by medical therapy and risk factor control than it is more commonly discussed technologically advanced and sometimes expensive interventions. These are wonderful to have available, but we hope that you never need them! We are glad to see anyone that is concerned with regards to where they stand, assess their risk, and ways to prevent that. Regular contact with medical care so patients are aware of their blood sugar, blood cholesterol and blood pressure is also of great benefit. Knowing family history regarding cardiovascular disease is helpful as well.”
Just like anything, the first step to a healthy heart is being aware. Call 513-206-1320 or click here to schedule a preventative cardiology appointment.