Dr. Jeffrey Eaton is a Cardiologist with Mount Nittany Physician Group, and he stopped by the studio to talk about women's heart health.
The risk of heart disease increases with age, but prevention can start very young.
Dr. Eaton always asks his patients if they have children, and if they do, he tells them that they should talk to their children about the risk factors for heart disease, because while genetics is one factor for developing heart disease, certain lifestyle factors may also elevate your risk.
Dr. Eaton says there are two main lifestyle factors; Nutrition and Smoking. Eating fast food is a definite problem for young people, and the high amount of fat will eventually cause problems for the artery walls. The toxins you inhale while smoking, also injure the artery walls.
Dr. Eaton says people can reduce their risk by:
- Eating more fruits and vegetables
- Watching portion sizes
- Avoiding fried foods
- Exercise to lower BMI and Cholesterol
- Don't Smoke? Don't Start!
If women notice signs of chest discomfort, fatigue, heavy pressure in the chest, nausea, vomiting, and radiating pain in the neck and jaw area, Dr. Eaton says you should call an ambulance immediately. For one, he says, it's safer. The other reason is, certain tests can be done in the ambulance and then be sent to the hospital so that the cardiac intervention team can get prepared.
Mount Nittany Health started their Coronary Intervention Program in 2007 and have done 700 coronary interventions since that time. Under the program, Mount Nittany Health has the staff and tools necessary to reduce the "door-to-balloon" time, or the period between the arrival of a patient at the hospital and the point when the balloon reaches the blockage during an intervention. The shorter this critical time period is, the less damage done to the heart muscle due to a lack of oxygen-enriched blood flow.
Typically, doctors will perform a Cardiac Catheterization, which is a group of procedures that involve physician-guided long, thin tubes (catheters) entered through an artery in the leg or shoulder and into the heart and the coronary arteries.
This year, Mount Nittany Health had 71 heart alerts in the Emergency Department. A heart alert requires that they have their staff and equipment ready within 20 minutes to perform a catheterization.
In the end, Dr. Eaton says you should stay ahead of the curve, and take all the precautions against coronary heart disease. He says, "Start young and keep at it!"