Louis Cunningham, MD, FACC and Tommy Miller, III, MD, FACC are both cardiologists with Mid-South Heart Center and West Tennessee Heart and Vascular Center's Paris Cardiology Outreach Clinic. They have provided the information below to help you determine if you need to see a cardiologist.
Why do some people live to a vigorous old age while others die of a heart attack in their early 40s? We don't have a complete answer to that question, but we do know that certain characteristics increase your risk of developing heart disease:
Now that we’ve reviewed the risk factors for heart disease, let’s focus on preventing it! Get regular exercise. Eat a diet low in animal fats and cholesterol and high in fruits, vegetables, and grains. Stay away from cigarettes. Keep your body weight within a healthy range. Keep your blood pressure and blood sugar under control if you have high blood pressure or diabetes.
Knowledge is power and these lifestyle changes are paying off. The American College of Cardiology tells us that since the early 1960s, the number of deaths from heart disease has dropped by half. According to Dr. Louis Cunningham with the Paris Cardiology Outreach Clinic, “better treatments are responsible for some of that improvement, but if you are living a healthier lifestyle, you deserve credit too.”
Still, heart disease remains the number one killer of both men and women in the United States. Why? Our fast-paced lives can sometimes make it difficult to stick with healthy habits. In addition, Dr. Tommy Miller, III advises us that “even the most health-conscious person may not be able to overcome an inherited risk for heart disease.”
There's plenty of good news though. Continual advances in medical research along with technological innovations mean that cardiologists are better prepared than ever to treat heart disease and help you live a long and active life.
According to Dr. Cunningham and Dr. Miller, here are the top indications it is time to see a cardiologist:
“Ideally, the right time to see a cardiologist is before you have a heart attack, when the damage to your heart is still preventable," Dr. Cunninham says.
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