Being heart healthy is a marathon, not a sprint, says local cardiologist

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From Piedmont Newnan Hospital

Individuals with risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity, tobacco use, sedentary lifestyle, a family history of heart disease and sleep apnea, should see a cardiologist regularly, even in the absence of symptoms, says Tesfaye Telila, M.D., interventional cardiologist with Piedmont Heart Institute in Newnan, Sharpsburg and Fayetteville.

Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States and nearly half of all U.S. adults have some type of cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association. The good news is that most of acquired heart disease is preventable through lifestyle changes like diet, regular exercise, stress reduction and medications if needed.

“Cardiologists provide comprehensive care for patients with these risk factors, helping patients manage risk factors such as a poor diet, high blood pressure, cholesterol, stress, smoking and obesity,” says Dr. Telila. “They also treat a myriad of other heart problems including, but not limited to, heart rhythm abnormalities, coronary artery disease, heart failure, and valvular heart disease.”

Heart disease poses a particular threat to Georgians, as Georgia has the 12th highest death rate from cardiovascular disease in the country.

One of the common cardiovascular conditions that can be easily managed by your cardiologist is hypertension, also known as high blood pressure (HBP). Usually defined as anything above 140/90mmHg. Hypertension is one of the most undertreated medical conditions in the United States. While damages from hypertension occur over time, if left untreated, hypertension can lead to heart failure, kidney failure, stroke and even blindness. The good news is that it can be managed by a cardiologist through aggressive life style modifications and medications.

Cardiologists are also especially interested in their patients’ cholesterol levels, as it can cause plaque buildup in heart arteries that can potentially rupture and cause a heart attack. High cholesterol can be managed by lifestyle changes, and, if needed, medication.

The best way to prevent heart attacks is by eating well and exercising regularly.

“Being heart healthy is a marathon, not a sprint,” said Dr. Telila. “It takes a combination of eating a heart healthy diet and doing regular aerobic exercise that raises the heart rate for at least 20 to 30 minutes for at least two to three days a week.”

Heart healthy diets in general include diets packed with fruits and vegetables, lean meat such as fish and chicken, non-animal or plant-based proteins and foods that have low amounts of fat and salt.

“I say it is a marathon as most cardiovascular problems develop overtime and are generally treated but not entirely cured as the patient is still at risk for another event and regular follow-up and continued risk modification is key,” said Telila.

By eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, avoiding excess weight, not smoking, and keeping blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar within a healthy range you can significantly reduce your chances of developing a serious heart condition.

For more information or to sign up for the women’s heart health screening at Piedmont, visit piedmont.org.

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