Dr. Arshad Safi, Interventional Cardiologist at Chambersburg Hospital often sees patients at their worst; sometimes after suffering a major cardiac emergency, such as a heart attack.
He says the biggest problem is people wait until it’s too late to change their health, he tells community members he would much rather see them for a preventative visit, than wheeled into the Cath Lab in an emergency.
“There are many steps you can take to improve your heart health, such as living a healthy lifestyle, controlling cholesterol, eating well, and managing blood pressure, maintaining a healthy weight, controlling blood sugar, and not smoking,” he explained. “It is important to discuss your personal health and risk factors with your physician to develop a plan for maintaining your health and lowering your risks.”
He offers the following five pieces of advice to help you stay heart healthy:
1. Understand what family history means for you
Although people with a family history of heart disease are at a higher risk for developing the disease, so many patients don’t understand what that might mean for them. A lot of people assume if they have no family history, they are not at risk, others fear they are doomed for heart disease because a relative had it. The truth is every person can be at risk for heart disease despite family history, and there are a lot of lifestyle behaviors that can dramatically reduce that risk, such as living a healthy lifestyle, controlling cholesterol, eating well, and managing blood pressure, maintaining a healthy weight, controlling blood sugar, and not smoking. On the reverse, there are many people who have the family history, but have managed their risk factors and are very heart healthy. Never assume anything!
2. Don’t try a quick fix, set long-term goals
It is so important to make healthy changes, for so many reasons, including reducing your risk for heart disease, but making the change is not enough, you must maintain a healthy lifestyle. We need our patients to consider long-term health, not just a quick-fix. We encourage our patients to craft a lifestyle with healthy choices they can maintain. This is why often fad diets are not a good solution, they tend to be too restrictive and our patients can’t continue that lifestyle for a long period of time. It’s important to work with your doctor to find a lifestyle that you can maintain, and that allows you to be healthy and happy.
3. Don’t fear the doctor
The last thing a person should do is avoid going to the doctor because they are scared. We are here to help you live the healthiest life possible. There are many factors we can help our patients control, and with proper management, we can reduce many of the risks
of heart disease. So many people wait until they’ve had a heart attack or other serious health incident before they see us. Our goal is to work with you so those types of events never happen. We are not here to judge you, but to help you find a way to get to a healthier lifestyle.
4. Know your numbers
Often people assume there would be warning signs, but high blood pressure is often called the “silent killer” because many people do not know they have it. The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to check your numbers, regularly.
5. Don’t assume you are healthy because you look healthy
Heart disease can affect people of any age, even those who eat right and maintain a healthy weight. Young and middle-aged people can develop heart problems. Never assume that you are healthy – know your numbers and go for regular checkups to make sure! I’ve treated patients who appear very healthy physically, who were very sick inside and had no idea. Be in charge of your health, it could save your life!