American Heart Month is underway

Published 7:00 am Friday, February 9, 2018

February is American Heart Month and is a time to remind everyone about the importance of maintaining a healthy heart.

The American Heart Association states that about 2,300 Americans die of cardiovascular diseases daily.

Healthcare professionals regularly raise awareness of the importance of healthy lifestyle choices to prevent heart diseases.

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Dr. Vasanth Bethala, medical director at the Cardiology Institute in Slidell, La., said people should focus on preventing heart disease and recognizing problems early when symptoms arise.

Bethala said young people should stay active by exercising regularly.

“If possible they should try and eat foods low in cholesterol and saturated fats, switch to eating baked foodstuff and eliminate cheesy and fried foods from their diet,” Bethala said.

Reading the nutritional labels on food items is essential since while some may indicate the item contains no cholesterol it may be high in saturated fat.

Blood pressure is a silent killer so adults should periodically monitor it to ensure it’s at 120/80 or less.

Bethala said these days hypertension is observed to be the leading cause of heart attacks among people. Among younger adults tobacco usage, high cholesterol and a family history of heart attacks increases the risk.

“We do several types of testing for early detection of coronary and valve blood diseases that includes the exercise stress test, chemical stress test for those who cannot walk and condition testing for the heart where the body is hooked to a machine,” Bethala said.

Medical personnel also monitor changes in heartbeat, rhythm and pay attention to blood flow patterns. If oxygen flow is obstructed, that portion of the heart may look weak, Bethala said.

“In extreme cases a CAT scan is also done to detect blood flow to the heart muscle,” he said.

Everyone should know their cholesterol level.

“Eighty percent of women have regular symptoms such as fatigue, tiredness, shortness of breath, shoulder pain or back pain and it is important that they consult their doctor early to get the right diagnosis,” Bethala said.

Heartburn is one of the most common misdiagnosis and delayed intervention is known to increase the risk of heart attacks.

“Seek medical attention when feeling an unusual shortness of breath, early fatigue or the slightest chest discomfort. Blockages in the heart can affect other arteries and lead to blockages in the neck and leg as well,” Bethala said.