Bayfront Health Seven Rivers recently had a seminar titled “Know Your Heart Risks” at the hospital’s Senior Circle, presented by cardiologist Dr. R. Prasad Potu of Potu Cardiology in Meadowcrest, Crystal River.
Just before the seminar began, patrons were treated to a heart-healthy lunch provided by the hospital.
Dr. Potu was introduced to the large crowd by Wayne W. Ruppert Jr., cardiovascular coordinator, emergency manager and EMS liaison at Bayfront Health Seven Rivers.
He said Dr. Potu is a highly rated and highly respected by his peers.
“His percentages are based on his rate of treatment compared to his peers nationwide,” he said, according to insurance data.
Dr. Potu advised that when people develop heart-related problems, the damage is already done, but they can use prevention from other occurrences by changing their lifestyles to eat healthier by eating real foods, exercising, losing weight when necessary and choosing a healthier lifestyle.
“Once you develop heart problems, there is no cure,” said Dr. Potu. “Most heart diseases are chronic conditions and are not curable.”
Preventive measures are important in taking care of your heart and before you have heart-related issues, he noted.
“The heart is a muscle, but unlike the muscle in one’s legs and arms, the heart muscle is an involuntary muscle,” he said. It needs nourishment, works to pump and contract and keeps the body’s electrical system working.
Arteries are important as they flow the blood from veins and the heart. There are four chambers: two upper and two lower.
“When the blood slows down, it causes problems,” said Dr. Potu.
Hypertension, high blood pressure, is one of the causes of heart disease. It can cause a stroke, heart disease, heart valve problems, heart failure and even death.
Being overweight, lack of exercise, high blood pressure, not eating a healthy diet, stress, smoking, genetics, drinking too much alcohol, too much salt, high cholesterol and having diabetes all contribute to heart-related problems and stroke.
“Chewing tobacco is toxic, as well as smoking and even the new electronic cigarettes,” he said. “If you are a smoker, quit now.”
Preventive measures are important in avoiding heart failure, but if someone already has heart-related problems, they need treatment to prevent further occurrences and should follow a risk-management program.
Heredity also factors in, as well as race and gender. Be aware of your family’s health history as it can affect you.
Being diabetic is also a risk factor that can create heart problems. Diabetics must keep their A1c in control. A diabetic person’s A1c should be between 6 and 7, Dr. Potu said.
“Today, many people are less active and obesity is a significant problem,” said Dr. Potu. High blood pressure is also a contributing factor. It affects Hispanics and African-Americans even more.
“We can modify that and treat high blood pressure,” he said. “Blood pressure should be less than 120 over 80, with 80 being the bottom number, and should be checked regularly. High blood pressure is a silent killer, but can be controlled.”
High cholesterol is another heart-related factor. A person with diabetes or heart disease should have LDL, bad cholesterol, of around 70 and HDL, good cholesterol, higher than 35. Triglycerides should be less than 150. Cholesterol can be controlled with diet, exercise and if needed, statin drugs.
As far as heart-healthy diets go, eat lean meats but not an excess of red meat, increase vegetables and fruits consumed and eat real food, not processed food.
Exercise is a requirement for good health.
“Walk, even walk in your house if need be, but stay active,” he said. Walking reduces stress and strengthens the heart, as do bike riding, swimming, water aerobics and gym workouts.
“The more active you are, the more healthy you’ll be,” Dr. Potu said.
Obesity is on the rise today, but is preventable. One’s body mass index, BMI, should be less than 25 to 30. More than 30 is not good, as the BMI measures the amount of fat in one’s body.
In addition, Dr. Potu advised people to learn to control stress.
After a heart event, one must eat a healthy diet, go to cardiac rehab to strengthen the heart muscle and exercise regularly. Make lifelong changes to stay healthy.
“Take care of your heart and have a heart-healthy lifestyle,” said Dr. Potu.