Cardiovascular Disease Prevention in the Spotlight

A recent insert published on Feb. 22 in USA Today put a spotlight on cardiovascular disease prevention and featured interviews with physicians and patients about the advancements in treatment and technology, the importance of lowering blood pressure numbers and heart disease risk, and the importance of cardiac rehabilitation.

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Giving a physician perspective, ACC President William Zoghbi, MD, FACC, highlighted the overarching importance of patient-centered care. "No matter how good the medicine, ongoing lifesaving treatments must be accompanied by real lifestyle changes. It's much better to prevent heart and vascular disease in the first place," he says. According to Zoghbi, education helps patients become aware of the different resources available to them and steps to take to prevent future issues regarding their heart health. It can also help patients better engage with their health care providers and partner in care decisions.

Other cardiovascular professionals focused on specific cardiovascular-related topics, such as hypertension.  Martha Gulati, MD, MS, FACC, director of preventative cardiology and women’s cardiovascular health at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, suggests that "people with high blood pressure or at risk for hypertension should eat less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day, equal to approximately a half-teaspoon." She recommends preparing food at home and adds "you have to find a good substitute such as herbs and spices that add flavor."

Another related problem patients should be aware of is the effects of cancer treatments on heart disease. "Patients should talk to their doctor about possible cardiovascular side effects of the treatment," said Juan Carlos Plana, MD, FACC, co-director, cardio-oncology center, Cleveland Clinic. "Doctors trained in protecting the hearts of cancer patients, a field known as cardio-oncology can then take steps to protect the heart, allowing the patient to continue his or her fight against cancer without causing cardiovascular problems."

From a patient perspective, Mayra Rodriguez shared her experience combating non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and undergoing surgery for a left ventricular assist device (LVAD). "It's been almost five years … I love my LVAD and am grateful to the doctors who made this treatment possible," said Rodriguez. TV star Star Jones, a spokesperson for the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women campaign, also shared her story of undergoing open-heart surgery to repair a defective heart valve and her pathway to recovery through cardiac rehabilitation and eating healthy. "Cardiac rehab gave me confidence," noted Jones. "If I convey one thing to other women it would be: 'You're worth it. Take care of yourself.'"

Adding to the importance of cardiac rehabilitation, Carl King, EdD, adds that "the clinical outcomes measured in cardiac rehabilitation patients are overwhelmingly successful, making it the most effective and affordable secondary prevention for heart disease."

Keywords: Health Personnel, Sodium, Heart-Assist Devices, Blood Pressure, Universities, Patient-Centered Care, Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin, Heart Diseases, Spices, Ohio, Secondary Prevention, Cardiology, Cardiovascular Diseases, Risk Assessment, Cardiac Surgical Procedures, Heart Valves, Hypertension, United States

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