Young at Heart: Getting ahead of heart disease
1/31/2016 10:56 AM
Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States, claiming more than 375,000 lives per year. Although the stereotypical cardiac patient is up in years, a person doesn’t have to be old to experience heart issues.
Dr. Scott Solomon, an interventional cardiologist at Central Texas Medical Center, says there are four key things people can do early on to get ahead of heart disease.
KNOW YOUR RISK
If an immediate family member has heart issues in their 40s through 60s, it is especially important to get regular blood work done. Those with high cholesterol or diabetes have a higher likelihood of presenting earlier with coronary disease, and it’s important to catch these conditions at an early age.
“If you have risk factors, consider talking to your doctor to find out if you’re eligible for a coronary calcium scan that detects calcium buildiup in the arteries,” Solomon said. “If no calcium is found, it’s a good predictor that you’re less likely to have issues in the next ten years.”
For good heart health, everyone needs at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise five times per week. Solomon said he sees a common misconception with young males that lifting weights satisfies this requirement. “Strength training is important, but resistance training doesn’t do anything to increase heart rate,” he said.
When it comes to drinking, moderation is key. Excessive amounts of alcohol are toxic to the heart because they cause triglycerides and cholesterol to spike. Over time, the heart can become dilated and cause heart failure.
“Although I don’t recommend starting drinking if you don’t already, one glass of wine can be good and protective, but clearly there is a fine line,” Solomon said.
Smoking significantly increases the risk for heart disease. In addition to thousands of harmful chemicals, Solomon says cigarettes can cause heart palpitations and blood pressure spikes.
“There are several aids to help with quitting smoking,” Solomon said. “Talk to your doctor about which alternative might be right for you.”
Although Solomon says most young people who take a trip to the emergency room for cardiac symptoms are diagnosed with non-cardiac chest pain, it is better to be safe than sorry. “If you have chest pain, don’t sit around with it. The more time passes, the more damage can be done.”
Through a partnership with Austin Heart, Dr. Scott Solomon joined the CTMC cardiac team in August. He works in conjunction with interventional cardiologist Dr. Anthony Cedrone. The addition of a second interventional cardiologist ensures emergency heart attack cases can be treated at the same time as elective procedures.
“Cardiology is one of the fields where you can take care of acute and chronic illness,” Solomon said. “I think you can have a huge impact on other organ systems if you get the heart working the best you can.”
Prior to joining CTMC’s team, Dr. Solomon worked at the Mid-America Heart Institute and the St. Louis University Hospital for Interventional Cardiology.