Preventing heart disease with a healthy lifestyle — and a partner
Heart disease is a broad term used to describe conditions that affect the function of the heart. From irregular heartbeats to congenital heart failure and cardiomyopathy, a number of heart diseases can impair your heart. Luckily, most of these conditions are preventable.
Bayhealth Cardiologist Pedro Perez, MD, of Bayhealth Cardiology Consultants says a patient can’t help if a certain heart condition is hereditary, but there are several environmental risks that patients can manage by modifying their behavior, including:
- Adhering to a heart-healthy diet
- Maintaining blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Making physical activity a habit
- Quitting smoking
“Making a habit of living a healthy lifestyle will reduce your risk of heart disease,” Dr. Perez said. “People don’t always realize the vast benefits of a healthy lifestyle. For years, physicians recommended that taking aspirin would help reduce heart disease. Too often we’re convinced that we should take a pill to achieve a goal, but you can reach the same goal by making exercise and eating right a habit.”
Moreover, you’re not in this alone. Dr. Perez recommends asking the people around you — family, friends and physicians — for help and support throughout the process. This will make the process easier and more enjoyable. Do things together. Eat together. Exercise together. Soon you’ll achieve change together. “The first step is creating a routine and sticking with it,” Dr. Perez said. “If you put your mind to it, you will build the first stage of making a healthy life a routine. Eventually it will become easier and you’ll start to feel different. You will get through this. Don’t give up, it will pay off.”
The symptoms for heart disease include chest pain, rapid breathing, dizziness, nausea, and sweating. For women especially, the symptoms aren’t typical for heart disease. For example, the pain may be in their neck and/or back rather than chest. The reality is that any new symptom or significant clinical change for men or women should alert them to the possibility of underlying heart diseases as the culprit, and seeking medical attention is recommended, Dr. Perez said.
Visit Bayhealth.org/cardiologyconsultants to learn more about Bayhealth Cardiology Consultants with locations in Milford, Dover, and Smyrna, or call 1-866-BAY-DOCS to be matched with a physician who meets your needs.