COLORADO SPRINGS – February is Heart Health Month, that kicks off with Go Red for Women Day. Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of women, causing 1 in 3 deaths each year. That’s approximately one woman every minute according to GoRedforWomen.org.
A new report by the American Heart Association says nearly half of all adults in the U.S. have some form of cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Kevin Shortt, a Cardiac Surgeon with UCHealth Memorial Hospital, wants to remind everyone, “It’s not normal to have heart pain. It’s not normal to get very short of breath when you’ve gone up a flight of stairs. Everybody can get winded if you’re running up a flight of stairs for a second, but it shouldn’t persist.”
If you are not having a regular annual physical or even if you are, the early signs of heart disease are when you need to take action.
Dr. Shortt explains: “It’s very, very important for patients to take responsibility for how they feel and keep a record of it to a certain extent. We can only do as much as people tell us. If patients come to us with a complaint we can start to work something out. We can’t go out and find them in the community.”
While it may not be practical to walk into your doctor’s office and ask for a heart scan, Dr. Shortt says there are things you can point out to your doctor. “What you might walk in and say is ‘hey doc I don’t feel well. Six months ago I could run three miles, but now I go up a flight of stairs I feel very short of breath and my chest feels tight.’ Or, ‘I don’t have any strength for normal activities or I feel like I need a nap in the afternoon where before I never felt like that.’ ”
And there are important preventative steps you can take before the subtle warning signs of heart disease begin.
Dr. Shortt says, “Maintaining good blood pressure, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, getting some activity and exercise. Keeping your body weight normal, and avoiding foods that are that we all know that are unhealthy – things that are high in animal fats – and of course the big one, not smoking.”
All month long in Your Healthy Family, we will be be focusing on heart patient stories and doctors’ advice to increase your heart health awareness.
UCHealth is a proud sponsor of Your Helathy Family