Understand Your Risks to Prevent a Heart Attack
Dr. Perez strongly encourages his patients to have healthy lifestyles that include daily physical activity
SEPA Doral is proudly supporting the American Heart Association by helping raise awareness for heart disease in our community. Carlos Perez, M.D., the Medical Director at SEPA Doral considers identifying risk factors through preventative medicine and annual checkups a vital part in any effective treatment plan for heart disease. February has officially been American Heart Month since 1963, when President Lyndon B. Johnson together with Congress passed the resolution. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US as 1 in 4 deaths are caused by some form of heart disease. Every 40 seconds someone in the United States has a heart attack and every minute at least one person dies from a heart disease-related event. Sadly, this is not exclusive to the United States, 17.9 million people in the world die each year from some form of heart disease.
Anyone can develop heart disease, even at a young age. Heart disease arises when a substance called plaque builds up in your arteries causing your arteries to narrow which reduces your body’s blood flow. Education and awareness can save lives when it involves heart disease. Understanding the factors that can put you at risk can have huge and life altering ramifications. These risk factors fall into three categories: health conditions, lifestyle, and age and family history. Health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes do increase your risk for heart disease. Poor diet and lack of activity are lifestyle factors that can also increase your risk. An example of family history as a risk factor would be a parent with coronary atherosclerosis disease prior to the age of 60. People who are concerned about how certain factors may put them at risk should visit: https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/risk_factors.htm
Dr. Perez has noted that many patients in South Florida are smokers. Smoking has many adverse effects on the overall health of a person. Most smokers are not aware that smoking damages the lining of your arteries, leading to a buildup of fatty material (atheroma) which narrows the arteries. This can lead to angina, heart attacks, strokes and many other cardiovascular events.
Understanding what the risk factors are can, in many cases, help prevent the onset of heart disease. Dr. Perez strongly encourages his patients to have healthy lifestyles that include daily physical activity. Awareness and healthy lifestyle choices can dramatically help in the management and possible prevention of heart disease. Dr. Perez believes that discussing a diet and exercise program that is consistent with the lifestyle and schedule of the individual is always the best approach.
Cholesterol levels can be a source of confusion for many patients. “What is cholesterol and how does it affect me” is a question Dr. Perez answers almost every day at SEPA Doral. Your body naturally produces cholesterol, you also take in cholesterol when you eat foods from animals. Examples of foods that contain cholesterol are dairy products, chicken, pork, steak (dietary cholesterol). However, not all cholesterol is bad. HDL cholesterol known as “the good cholesterol”, can actually lower the risk of heart disease. There are many studies that show the correlation between diets rich in HDL foods (salmon, tuna, and nuts) and HDL levels of 60 or higher, leading to a reduced risk for heart disease.
So your Healthy Heart Checklist should include:
- Annual checkups with your Primary Care Physician
- A healthy and active lifestyle with a dietary plan catered to the individual
- Avoiding behaviors and foods that increase the risk of heart disease
SEPA Doral Medical Center is open to the general public, they accept all major insurances, and have excellent cash rates for patients that do not have health insurance. The office hours are Monday thru Friday from 7am to 7pm.
Dr. Carlos Perez is board certified in Family Medicine.