Archived Story

Preventing heart disease

Published 11:57am Friday, February 15, 2013

Doctor shares tips on how to be heart healthy

In the United States, there are about 900,000 heart attacks yearly.

Approximately 600,000 people will die from cardiovascular disease – which is about one death every 40 seconds.

The good news? A large majority of these cases are preventable, according to Dr. Kevin Sublett, board certified cardiologist and interventional cardiologist.

“Heart disease is a huge problem,” Sublett said. “It costs the American healthcare system $300 billion annually in medical costs.”

February is American Heart Month, during which healthcare professionals try to spread awareness of the prevalence of cardiovascular disease and ways it can be prevented. The risk factors for heart disease are well-defined, Sublett said.

“Smoking increases the risk of heart attack by 15 times,” Sublett said. “If you quit smoking, your risk of heart attack begins decreasing immediately. Over a two-year period, it can near that of someone who has never smoked.”

Other risk factors include physical inactivity, high blood pressure and diabetes, Sublett said.

Here in the South, heart attacks are more common than in other areas of the United States, a fact Sublett said is indicative of an obesity problem fueled by large portion sizes and foods high in calories and fat. A person’s diet plays a large role in their risk of heart attacks and disease, he added.

“Alabama has one of the highest obesity rates nationwide,” Sublett said. “In Paris, for example, the instance of heart attacks is two thirds that of the United States, and that is largely related to diet.”

Reducing caloric intake and working to curtail the consumption of fatty foods can help you become more heart healthy, Sublett said.

Exercise is another important component.

“If a patient has problems with his or her heart, regular exercise can reduce the chance of recurrent heart attacks by 20-25 percent,” Sublett said.

The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of exercise a day. Sublett said that this could be 30 minutes of moderate walking.

In addition to these measures, Sublett stressed the importance of regular doctor visits.

“Early detection is key, and there are several ways to detect heart disease early on,” Sublett said. “Most of them are noninvasive – a specialized imaging study can pick up the signs (of heart disease).”

Individuals should get their blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol checked yearly, Sublett said.

RMC will be hosting a few events in the coming weeks to promote American Heart Month, spread awareness and try to make Tallapoosa County more heart healthy.

A heart health and wellness fair is scheduled for Feb. 21 at Total Fitness from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. The cost is $10 a person and includes a cholesterol and blood sugar test, blood pressure check, cardiovascular step test, body mass index and body fat analysis. Nutritional information will also be dispersed and refreshments will be provided.

Sublett will also be speaking at the upcoming fashion show and luncheon, which will be held at Jake’s Restaurant Feb. 28. Doors open at 11:30 a.m., and the show starts at noon. Tickets are $15, which includes lunch, and are available at the hospital.

For more information, contact RMC at 256-329-7145.

RMC will also offer three screenings – calcium-score heart scan, stroke prevention screening, echocardiogram – throughout the month of February in observance of American Heart Month.

To pre-register and schedule any of these screenings, please call Amanda Jones, admissions supervisor, at 256-329-7386.  Appointments are required.  A copy of all tests will be sent to an RMC cardiologist and the person’s primary care physician.  Payment is due at time of registration.