During this year’s American Heart Month, Burke Health implores Burke Countians to know their risks and follow healthy tips from three interventional cardiologists.
On average, someone in the United States dies of cardiovascular disease every 34 seconds, according to the American Heart Association. High blood pressure, aka hypertension, is when blood pressure, the force of blood flowing through blood vessels, is consistently too high. If left untreated, this can lead to stroke, vision loss, heart failure or heart attack.
“I recommend home blood pressure monitoring if you have a diagnosis of high blood pressure,” said Dr. Julio Schwarz of Burke Cardiology. “This should be done a few times per week, or more often if there has been a recent change to one of your medications. It’s a good idea to keep a log of your blood pressure readings to share with your doctor so that appropriate adjustments can be made. This can result in better management of your blood pressure and a healthier heart.”
Along with hypertension, heart health can be affected by obesity, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity. Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Abraham Lin suggests three tips for a healthy heart including, walking 8,000 steps a day about twice a week, sleeping a minimum of seven hours to improve blood pressure and eating healthier food choices. He suggests fruits, vegetables and lean protein, and limiting processed/ultra processed foods to reduce heart disease and improve blood pressure.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a healthy diet emphasizes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean proteins, and limits saturated and trans-fat, added sugars and sodium. Physical inactivity can also lead to heart disease, even for people who have no other risk factors
In addition to these tips, Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Kendall Griffith sheds light on risk factors of peripheral artery disease (PAD). PAD is the narrowing of the arteries that carry blood away from the heart to other parts of the body. The most common type is lower extremity PAD, in which blood flow is reduced to the legs and feet. Left untreated, it may increase the risk of coronary artery disease, heart attack and stroke.
“In a small town, we found there is a high population with risk factors for peripheral artery disease as well as coronary artery disease,” said Dr. Griffith. “Unfortunately, I see a lot of people who smoke here. They could have blockages in arms and legs and throughout the vascular system.”
According to the American Heart Association, people with Type 2 diabetes and PAD are up to four times more likely to lose a limb than those without diabetes. African Americans with PAD are also at an increased risk to lose a limb. People who smoke have three times higher risk for PAD than nonsmokers.
“If you smoke, stop,” Dr. Griffith urged. “We know that people who smoke have higher risk for peripheral artery disease and coronary artery disease. I know smoking is hard to quit, but we can help you.”
Burke Cardiology has offices located at 411 W. 4th St. in Waynesboro and 240 Walnut Street in Millen. To schedule an appointment, call 706-702- 2667.