Editor’s Note: The Covington News received the following Op-Ed.
Individuals with risk factors for cardiovascular disease should see a cardiologist regularly, regardless of whether they are experiencing symptoms of heart disease, according to Kalaimani Elango, M.D., a cardiologist with Piedmont Heart of Newton. Dr. Elango advises anyone who has diabetes, hypertension, or high cholesterol or who is obese, inactive, or a tobacco-user to consult a cardiologist.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) names heart disease as the leading cause of death for men and women alike in the country. The Georgia Department of Public Health reports that the rate of death from heart disease in the state is five times higher than the national average. Roughly half of adults in the United States have at least one of the top three risk factors for heart disease, which are high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol and tobacco use, according to the CDC. A cardiologist can help manage these risk factors.
“Too many people wait to see me until they are short of breath or experiencing chest pain,” said Dr. Elango. “But if you have any of these underlying issues or habits, I would strongly encourage you to come see me before you don’t feel well. We can develop a plan together for adjustments to your diet, exercise routine and stress management practices that will make developing heart disease less likely.”
It is important not to wait for warning signs to visit a cardiologist because damage often occurs before a person feels any differently, says Dr. Elango. Heart disease risk factors themselves can be asymptomatic. The CDC notes that there is often no outward sign, for example, of high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
Proactive lifestyle changes for heart health may include a diet founded in fruits, vegetables and lean meats as well as an exercise regimen that entails heart-rate-raising aerobics for 20 to 30 minutes several times a week. Medication is another possible tool, under the direction of a cardiologist, to address high blood pressure or cholesterol.
“The best news I have for potential patients is that there are many things they can do to achieve heart health,” said Dr. Elango. “I also want them to know that I am here to help, to be part of their heart health support system, not to shame them if they haven’t taken perfect care of themselves to this point.”
For more information, or booking your next appointment, visit piedmont.org.