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Healthy Hearts are Happy Hearts

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Given our recent review of diabetes-related complications, this week I wanted to touch again on heart disease by going through a few misunderstandings some may have about this disease. Have you said any of these?

1)”Heart disease is mainly something that happens to older men”—-FALSE.{{more}}

Historically heart disease has been associated with men, but we know now that heart disease affects both men and women. In fact, it is now the leading cause of death in women over the age of 20 in the industrialized world. As far as the “old” part, heart disease has been shown to actually start at a very young age. Some research has even shown build-up of cholesterol plaque in the arteries of teenagers and people in their 20’s. It is never too early to start taking good care of yourself.

2)”I should not worry about heart disease because no one in my family has it”-FALSE.

While having many family members with heart disease does put you at a higher risk of having it yourself, the opposite does not save you. You can very well end up being the ONLY one in your family with a heart attack, so you still need to work on being healthy and doing the right things for your health. The fact that your mother lived to age 90 does not mean that you can let your sugars run high and expect the same grace.

3) “I have had this heartburn for a few days and it won’t get better. I think I should go to the doctor-“-YES!!! GO NOW!!!

I am not trying to start a massive stampede into the emergency room in Kingstown, but I do want you to remember this very important piece of information. Many people with diabetes will not have classic chest pain when they are having a heart attack, especially women. The symptoms are often quite vague or seem like something else, for example heartburn, belly pain, a sore neck, or just really tiredness. You should always be very suspicious when you are feeling not-quite-normal, because diabetes makes a great pretender out of almost every other disease. And missing something could be disastrous.

4)”I am young and I feel fine; no need to worry about this heart disease stuff now”-of course FALSE.

I have almost begged several of my young patients with diabetes: PLEASE start taking better care of yourself. The problem with heart disease is that unless you feel the pain or have something disastrous happen (like passing out completely), people don’t bother with it, because it seems far away. It is not like a sore on your foot that won’t heal and gets bigger and foul smelling – you see that everyday and KNOW something is wrong. But your heart silently takes all the damage, until one day the threshold is crossed and you are in trouble, often without any warning. That is not a good place to be, so start now: get your sugars controlled, get your cholesterol low, take that baby aspirin every day, get your blood pressure to goal, lose some weight, exercise, stop smoking, and visit your doctor regularly. Seems like a lot, but it isn’t. You can’t possibly look me in the eye and tell me your life isn’t worth that much effort. IT IS WORTH IT, so get to work.

Until next week, stay safe and healthy Vincies!

Anita Ramsetty, MD endodocs@endocrinehelp.com

Medical Director Endocrine Care Group

www.endocrinehelp.com

Tel: 843-798-4227

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