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Thursday, April 15, 2021

Combat heart disease

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and stroke with prevention

By DANYELLA DAVIS

The primary cause of death in Indiana, according to the American Heart Association, is cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

And the leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control is chronic diseases of the heart, cancer and diabetes.

Ironically, although these diseases are claiming large numbers and are among the most costly health problems in the U.S., they are also one of the most preventable.

By choosing to adopt healthier behavioral patterns such as eating a nutritious balanced diet, non-tobacco use and plenty of exercise, you dramatically decrease your odds of developing these diseases.

Clinical cardiologist Dr. Sheila Gamach, of the Indiana Heart Hospital stresses the importance of educating readers about not only preventative methods but also informing patients of what heart disease and stroke are.

“When someone says I’m worried I have heart disease that is like someone walking up to a contractor and saying I’m worried I have something going on with my house. So when someone says they are having heart trouble, my first question to them is tell me what is going on,” said Gamache.

There are several different types of heart disease but the most common and widely recognized is coronary heart disease or CHD. This occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the heart become hardened and narrow, which typically occurs due to plaque buildup of cholesterol.

“When you have clogged plumbing of your heart arteries and you have a 90 percent blockage you get chest pains and are at risk for a heart attack, and that’s where we put a stent in. It doesn’t take all that grime out, it just squashes it into the wall. It’s a treatment not a cure,” emphasizes Gamache.

When your artery that’s supplying blood to the heart muscle gets completely clogged and it ruptures that is considered a heart attack. If the artery that supplies blood to the brain clogs and no blood flow is getting to the brain that is considered a stroke or a brain attack.

“Due to hardening of the arteries people who have one are at risk for the other. The most important thing is to understand with a stroke you are dealing with clogged plumbing so the brain is going without oxygen, and a heart attack is clogged plumbing so the heart muscle is going without oxygen,” said Gamache.

According to Gamache, heart disease kills more women than the top 14 causes of cancer combined. And the common denominator for most chronic heart diseases is the preventable methods one can utilize to either eliminate or narrow one’s chances of ever developing these harmful and deadly diseases.

“The most important things you need to know to help combat heart disease and stroke are knowing your family history. You need to have your blood pressure checked at least once a year, you need to have your fat and cholesterol checked, know if you are a diabetic, do not smoke, and lastly you need to get outside and get moving,” Gamache said.

With so many behavioral factors that can be put in place to alleviate major health issues such as stroke and heart disease which could lead to heart attacks and angina or chest pains, something one can do, according to the CDC is stop being inactive and become active.

Arteries don’t clog or become blocked overnight. It is a slow process; and healthy choices, especially regular physical actively, can help reduce the risk for many diseases by controlling weight, and strengthen your immune system and your muscles, bones and joints.

“If you are having chest pains or shortness of breath get evaluated. Just because you are a women or a man who is younger than 32 doesn’t mean you cannot have heart disease. Patients should also find out their Body Mass Index, meaning how much they weigh for how tall they are, and go with your gut feeling. If you think you need to get your heart more thoroughly evaluated go with your gut feeling,” said Gamache.

There is so much in life circumstantially and situational people are unable to control, but chronic disease isn’t one of them. Be proactive and take charge of your health by exercising to steer you in a direction away from heart disease and stroke.

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