I have heart disease. What do I do? Tips for living a heart healthy lifestyle.

As cardiologists, we look at risk factors for the development of coronary artery disease or heart artery blockages. These risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes mellitus, and family history of heart disease.

On the other hand, if you have had a heart attack, stent or bypass surgery, we look at what got you into this trouble in the first place and try to modify those risk factors as well as we possibly can.

First, and foremost, if you are a smoker you need to quit.  Smoking injures the lining cells of your arteries, called the endothelium, and makes you much more likely to build up cholesterol blockages called plaque. This plaque buildup slowly blocks blood flow of the arteries. To treat the cholesterol that is circulating in your bloodstream, we use medications that can drop levels by 50%.

Second, if your blood pressure is high, it is important to get it under control. There are several lifestyle changes that can help lower your blood pressure:

  1. Weight Loss
  2. Exercising regularly
  3. Eating healthy
  4. Reducing sodium intake
  5. Limiting alcohol intake
  6. Cutting back on caffeine
  7. Reducing stress.

Third, if you are diabetic, get your blood sugar under as much control as you can achieve. Premier Healthcare has two Endocrinologists who can help patients with Diabetes control their blood sugar levels. Visit: http://premierhealthcare.org/specialty.endocrinology.html or call 812.333.5976 today.

Finally, though you can’t choose new parents and therefore change your health history, you can take steps now to effectively reduce your future risk of heart disease. Visit: http://premierhealthcare.org/specialty.cardiology.html or call 812.331.3401 or 812.331.3402 today.

Written by Premier Healthcare Cardiologist, David Blemker, MD, FACC

What is Angina? Common Chest Pain Misconceptions

What is Angina? Common Chest Pain Misconceptions

Many of my patients are surprised that cardiac chest pain is not a sharp stabbing pain. It is more often described as a pressure, ache, or squeezing discomfort. Patients commonly label it as a pressure like someone or something, i.e. an elephant, is sitting on their chest. The take home message is that if your chest hurts in any way, no matter how seemingly insignificant, you should go and have it evaluated because it could be your heart.

Especially in February, for American Heart Month with events like Go Red for Women, we address heart disease in women. The need for this month of awareness is because females often have atypical symptoms that may not include chest discomfort. They can often present with indications like shortness of breath during exertion, or easy fatigability. Also, women may have discomfort in their back or in their abdomen. The bottom line is, if you feel some or any of these symptoms, I would rather you seek attention repeatedly for a false alarm than have you ignore the symptoms and wind up regretting it.

Written by David Blemker, MD, FACC, Cardiologist at Premier Healthcare, LLC