ROANOKE, Va. – With the coronavirus pandemic ongoing, the World Heart Foundation wants to stress that taking care of your heart is more important than ever.
Tuesday is World Heart Day, a day dedicated to bringing awareness to cardiovascular disease and the conditions it may cause.
Carilion Clinic cardiologist Dr. Bryant Self said heart disease is prevalent in our region and it’s something that develops over time so it’s important to not wait to take action until your health is in trouble.
Here are six things you can do to reduce your risk:
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Get 150 minutes of moderately intense or 75 minutes of intense exercise weekly
- Limit processed and prepackaged foods that are often high in salt, sugar and fat
- Cut down on sugary beverages and fruit juices. Instead, choose water or unsweetened juices
- Don’t smoke. However, if you do, quit. Within two years of quitting, the risk of coronary heart disease is substantially reduced
- Keep the amount of alcohol you drink within recommended guidelines
Another recommendation, know the symptoms of heart disease or any other heart-related emergency.
The symptoms of heart attacks for women aren’t always the obvious chest pains, they could be ingestion or shoulder, neck or jaw pain.
The point is to not be afraid to seek help and get checked out.
Self said some people are avoiding visiting a hospital or medical center out of concern of the coronavirus.
“We’re seeing people wait too long. Basically, they have their heart attack and then come in a couple of weeks later come in with heart failure, with fluid building up on them and it’s things we could have prevented or saved, heart muscle," said Self.
Dempsey Worner, an 82-year-old New River Valley man told 10 News he’s kept up a healthy lifestyle for years, but in 2016 things changed.
During a regular check-up, he told his doctor he had been experiencing shortness of breath and he was later diagnosed with an irregular heart beat.
Months later, during a visit to the Mayo Clinic, Worner was diagnosed with a rare, but life-threatening disease associated with heart failure, transthyretin amyloid cardiomyopathy (ATTR-CM), a heart disease prevalent in seniors.
Now he’s using his story to encourage others to keep up their doctor visits and speak up so doctors can catch anything that stands out earlier on.
“Know your body and if you have concerns express them to somebody. We’re responsible for ourselves as well as the doctors who are simply the people who help us and guide us along the way,” said Worner.
He wants World Heart Day to be a reminder that coronavirus is not the only thing people should be vigilant about right now.