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Wellness Watch - Heart Health


Heart disease is extremely common. It is the leading cause of death in men and women and in people of most racial groups. About 647,000 Americans die from heart disease each year. That’s one in every four deaths.

The term “heart disease” covers numerous problems that can all be fatal, but there are four major categories of heart disease.

  1. Coronary artery and vascular disease reduce blood flow to your heart and can affect the function of your heart and cause heart attacks.
  2. Heart rhythm disorders cause the heart to beat too quickly, too slowly or irregularly, and they disrupt blood flow.
  3. Structural heart disease includes abnormalities with valves, walls, muscles or blood vessels near the heart.
  4. Heart failure develops after the heart becomes weakened or damaged and is most often caused by a heart attack or high blood pressure

Phoebe offers the most comprehensive heart and vascular services in southwest Georgia. Learn more about those services and meet our team here.

Obviously, you can’t control your genetics, age, or gender – all of which may impact your likelihood of developing heart disease.  That’s why you should focus on modifiable risk factors which you can control.  So, what are the best things you should do to reduce your risk of developing heart disease?

  1. Don’t smoke. Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood and damages vessel walls. It can clog your arteries and make them stiff so blood can’t get through easily, which makes you much more likely to suffer a heart attack, stroke or other heart disease.
  2. Exercise regularly. That doesn’t mean you have to spend an hour in the gym every day. Even low intensity exercise is helpful. Find a type of physical activity that is enjoyable for you, and do it consistently.
  3. Eat healthy. Weight control is a key to preventing heart disease, and a well-balanced diet will help you maintain a healthy weight. You don’t have to completely cut out favorite foods that may not be great for you such as fried chicken, red meat or doughnuts. Just enjoy them occasionally, and make sure most of your meals include healthier options.
  4. Manage other health conditions. Conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes may cause or exacerbate heart disease. Be sure you properly take prescribed medications and follow your doctors’ orders to control those conditions.

The American Heart Association has a great deal of information on heart disease at their website, www.heart.org.

Phoebe also has an outstanding partnership with Mended Hearts. It is a national peer-to-peer support group that is based in Albany. Former cardiac patients volunteer through Mended Hearts to counsel new heart patients and help guide them through their treatment. Learn more at www.mendedhearts.org.