Soiree's Ask the Expert with Dr. Douglas Borg
Why is heart disease so prevalent?
Clearly genetic makeup plays a role. In clinical practice, we don’t yet have ways to test genetic risk. However, many risk factors increase the likelihood of coronary atherosclerosis and heart attack.
Risk factors include: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking and obesity.
Unfortunately, the prevalence of these risks is exponentially increasing in our country, which in turn is leading to more heart disease, particularly for people in their 30s and 40s. Prevention is certainly achievable, but there are barriers. It surprises many, but blood pressure, high cholesterol and even early diabetes do not necessarily cause noticeable symptoms. Workplace health fairs or routine doctor’s visits are the best ways to identify these developing problems.
What are your top tips for a healthy heart lifelong?
Cigarette smoking is Enemy No. 1 of heart disease. This epidemic causes more premature heart disease and cardiac-related death than anything else.
Another equally important tip is to develop healthy eating and exercise habits. Long-term heart health is especially tied to the ability to exercise in women. Once women become sedentary, heart health tends to decline. That after-dinner walk when the weather starts to cool is an excellent opportunity!
Lastly, even though it’s summertime and picnics are the norm, watching salt and sodium intake is especially important. Excess sodium contributes to high blood pressure and heart failure.
What tips/advice would you like to give to the general public?
1. Check your blood pressure at one of the free BP machines at your local pharmacy. If the systolic (top number) is greater than 140 consistently, you need further evaluation.
2. If you are over 40, check your cholesterol. Take advantage of workplace health fairs that will do this for free.
3. For the love of all things holy, kick the cigarettes to the curb.
4. Get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. Chasing kids/grandkids and most workplace activities unfortunately don’t count.