February is widely observed as American Heart Month, so we’re celebrating by sharing some prevention tips to keep your heart health optimal throughout your life. Prevention is key in maintaining heart health. 

Prevent Heart Disease with These Tips

  1. Eat for heart health. There are certain things you can be avoiding and including in your diet to promote heart health. Avoid foods that are high in sodium and hold the salt when you’re seasoning food. Excess salt can increase your risk for hypertension, or high blood pressure. The current dietary guidelines for sodium recommend 1500-2300 mg per day. Bulk up the foods you’re eating that have fiber in them. Studies suggest that 5-10g of soluble fiber daily can help lower “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. Limit saturated and trans fats in your diet, these can raise your overall cholesterol and LDL. 
  2. Avoid smoking or being around smoke frequently. Smoking is one of the top controllable factors when it comes to heart disease. Take your health into your own hands and ensure you’re not increasing your risk for heart disease by smoking.
  3. Manage your stress levels. If you live a life full of stress, this will affect your blood pressure. Find outlets for stress such as yoga or other forms of exercise and cut out certain things in your life that trigger stress. 
  4. Know your cholesterol and blood pressure numbers. If these are out of the range of normal, make sure you’re visiting with your provider to manage your blood pressure and cholesterol effectively. 

If you have experienced heart problems, our cardiologist, Dr. Benjamin Lee stands ready to help. Carl Joines, 81, shares his story with us below.

Two years ago, while Carl Joines, 81, was hospitalized for a stroke and pneumonia, doctors discovered a lump on his neck and recommended its removal. In the midst of preoperative workup, he was found to have abnormal cardiac tests prompting consultation with Dr. Benjamin Lee, Cardiologist. It turned out that Joines had likely suffered a heart attack sometime in the past resulting in severe heart failure.

“He said, guess what? We’re going to run some tests,” recalls Joines. “And they found out that part of my heart was dead – that it was only pumping about 20 percent of what it was supposed to. The anesthesia would have killed me. Essentially, if Dr. Lee hadn’t got involved, I wouldn’t be talking to you right now.” After some more tests in consultation with Dr. Lee, Joines was prescribed medications to help his heart function better. “I’m active and enjoying life,” says Joines. “If it hadn’t been for Dr. Lee, who knows? I think he is one wonderful fellow. He’s such a happy guy. He takes his time and explains everything. He doesn’t rush through anything, and I’ve had a lot of tests because he wants to make sure. He’s very thorough.” When Joines developed a hernia that required surgery, Dr. Lee consulted with the surgeon to ensure that Joines would get the proper type of anesthesia for his heart condition. The surgery was a success and Joines was soon back enjoying life on the farm.