Heart Disease, Know Your Risk - LECOM Health

Heart Disease, Know Your Risk

Heart Disease –
Know Your Risk!
February is American Heart Month, which promotes adopting healthy lifestyles to prevent heart disease. There are also risk factors that contribute to heart disease and ways to manage such risks. Currently half of all Americans have at least 1 of 3 key risk factors for heart disease:
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Blood Cholesterol
  • Smoking
While some risk factors cannot be controlled such as age or family history, you can take some steps to control these factors.
There are many ways to control high blood pressure. Losing weight around your mid-section is important, as blood pressure can increase as your weight increases. Other steps include exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet, reducing sodium intake, limiting caffeine and reducing your stress.
Smoking is a regular cause of heart disease. Smoking lowers your good cholesterol, raises triglycerides, a fat found in blood cells, causes thickening and narrowing of the blood vessels and increases the buildup of plaque in your blood vessels. There are many smoking cessation programs available, including the nicotine patch, gum and even physician-prescribed medications. Talk to your LECOM Health physician to discuss what program is right for you.
Taking steps to reduce your blood cholesterol level also aids in the prevention of heart disease. As your blood cholesterol levels rise, so does the risk of heart diseases. Your cholesterol is affected by many factors including age, sex, family history and diet. A good way to maintain healthy levels includes eating heart-healthy foods that are low in saturated fats and foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, herring, walnuts and flaxseeds. Adding soluble fiber to your diet can also reduce the absorption of cholesterol in your bloodstream.
These are just a few ways to start reducing your risk of coronary disease. If you’re concerned you might be at risk, contact your primary care physician to discuss what options you have to get you on track to a healthy heart.
Carmine D’Amico, DO, is a cardiologist with LECOM Health specializing in non-invasive/nuclear cardiology and invasive/interventional cardiology. He is a clinical associate professor of cardiology and assistant director of clinical education at LECOM. He earned his osteopathic medical degree from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. After finishing his internal medicine residency at Millcreek Community Hospital, he completed a cardiology fellowship at Deborah Heart and Lung Center. Dr. D’Amico is certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Internal Medicine as a Diplomat in Cardiology and Internal Medicine and by the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners, where he is on the COMLEX Level 2 (Exam) New Item Review Committee.