Medical Monday: Takeaways from February Heart...

Posted at 7:09 PM, Feb 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-29 20:09:31-05

Dr. Francis G. Wolf, a cardiologist with Aurora BayCare Cardiology, stopped by “Wisconsin Tonight” to talk about some important takeaways as we wrap up heart month.

With all the heart advice we’ve been given this month, what’s the big takeaway?

The takeaway for all of us this month is the importance of our personal role in better ensuring the overall health and wellness of our hearts. A number of personal choices we make and habits we engage in have a direct long-term impact on the health of our hearts. The more we engage in behaviors and habits that enhance our heart health, the better our chances of staving off future health issues with our hearts.

Some heart health tips aren’t easy to follow consistently; any motivational advice?

Many times it’s the tried and true tips like increasing our physical activity levels and watching what we eat that pose the greatest challenge. It can be time-consuming to go to the gym or head to the basement for a 30-minute treadmill run. And it can be easier to stick with what you know when it comes to preparing meals instead of watching calories, avoiding certain fats and generally paying attention to what we put in our bodies. We know this and understand. But what we also need to remember is the extra effort it takes to manage our heart health now generally can help reduce the need for having to manage preventable conditions later. The choice really is yours but we are here to help encourage you to make the right one.

If nothing else, what is the one heart health tip you hope people will try to follow?

The one heart health tip I strongly encourage people to follow is to quit smoking right now if they have that habit and to never, ever start if they don’t. Smoking is one of the top controllable risk factors for heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, many studies detail evidence that cigarette smoking is a major cause of coronary heart disease, which leads to heart attack. Second-hand smoke is problematic, too, as each year up to 69,600 premature deaths from heart and blood vessel disease are caused by other people’s cigarette smoke.

Can you give us some simple health tips to follow as we wrap up February Heart Month?

* Take responsibility for your health: I’ll reiterate, because it’s that important – take more of a role in your own heart health. The best prevention against heart disease and stroke is to understand the risks, treatment options and your role in ensuring your heart health. The greatest risk is lack of information. The first step is to take responsibility for your health. Other tips include:

* Maintaining a healthy blood pressure: High blood pressure is a silent killer as for many, it offers no symptoms. The higher your blood pressure the greater your risk.

* Monitoring your cholesterol: Abnormal or high blood lipids (fats) are a major contributor to cardiovascular disease.

* Reducing stress: Stress contributes to cardiovascular disease and, if severe, can cause a heart attack or sudden death.

* Add more fiber to your diet: Eating fiber from fruits, vegetables and grains may help lower your chances of getting heart disease.

* Avoid salty and high sodium foods: Skip the salt when preparing or eating your meals.

More information

For more information, call Aurora BayCare Cardiology at (800) 236-6309.