Heart Health Part 1: Recognizing the risks and warning signs

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“It’s very important to know about heart disease. It’s the number one killer of men and women in the United States,” Dr. Daniel Sporn said. 

According to recent studies an estimated 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. has some type of cardio vascular problem. Doctors say bad habits, stress, and family history are to blame.  

“Part of it is obesity, smoking is still a problem…we’ve known that for a number of years, there are a lot of people that have other risk factors like hypertension that we can better control, high cholesterol that we can better control, more exercise helps to reduce that,” Dr. Sporn said. 

Doctors recommend being proactive about your heart health by monitoring your blood pressure at home and getting regular check ups. 

“At least get a home blood pressure monitor, it’s a great place to start. Go to the doctor once a year at least, it’s a great place to start and they can test you for blood pressure and diabetes especially if you’re at risk for it and you know you have family history, or if you’re older and heavier,” Dr. Venu Thirumurti said. 

And there’s a wide range of warning signs that something could be wrong. 

“We talk about chest pain and we probably should say discomfort because sometimes people are kind of waiting for that knife like feeling in the chest and it may be more of a pressure or tightness or shortness of breath,” Dr. Sporn said. 

“Having a new problem that you never had before, if you’re not able to climb two flights of stairs without becoming short of breath, or having tightness in your chest or between your shoulder blades or in your jaw or your arms something that you can’t do that you used to be able to do before that’s a red flag,” Thirumurti said. 

Women especially should be aware of their risk. 

“It’s more lethal to women past the age of 45, they have more of a risk of dying from heart attack or stroke then men. It’s the number one killer of women in the United States, it kills more women then all types of cancer and diabetes and lung disease combined,” Thirumurti said. 

Symptoms of heart disease can vary greatly between men and women. In fact only about 20% of woman ever experience chest pain. 

“You can’t always rely on your symptoms, a lot of people especially women and especially diabetics don’t necessarily have the crushing chest pain when it comes to heart problems, they don’t feel anything sometimes. There’s all types of different tests that we recommend once we figure out that you are at risk for heart problems,” Thirumurti said. 
 

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