Health Alert: Mistakes made when trying to care for your heart

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. (WDTV) -- You may think you know how to protect your heart, but do you really?

Tonight on Health Alert, we discuss common mistakes that people make when it comes to their heart health. Joining us all-dressed in red as it is National Go Red Day-is Cheryl Farley, RN, BSN, manager of cardiac and pulmonary rehab at UHC.

Question: So, what is the biggest mistake that people often make when it comes to their heart health?

Answer: People skip their regular blood pressure check. High blood pressure is defined as 130/80mm Hg and up, and is a top risk factor for heart attack and stroke. The challenge is that many of the 103 million U.S. adults who have high blood pressure don’t know it, and as you age your risk increases.

Even if you are healthy, make sure your family physician checks your BP at least once every two years. However, this should not be a problem if you are getting your annual physical.

Question: What about patients who are on statins, any suggestions for those on these medications?

Answer: Yes, the cholesterol-lowering meds aren’t a free pass to load up on bacon cheeseburgers. In order for your statin to do its job, you still need to eat a heart-healthy diet centered on fruits and veggies, nuts, beans, and fish.

Question: What are a few other mistakes that you often encounter with patients?

•Not getting enough sleep- People who snooze for fewer than six hours per night have a 23% higher risk of heart disease compared to those who get seven to nine hours.

•Ignoring stress—Unchecked tension can take a serious toll on your ticker. It not only raises your heart rate and blood pressure, but over time, it can damage the walls of your arteries.

•Sitting for 9 hours a day—Too much sedentary time ups the risk for heart disease and early death—even among regular exercises, according to research from the American Heart Association.

•Yo-yo dieting—Shedding excess pounds is great for your heart but only if you keep the pounds off.

•Drinking Diet Soda—Increasing evidence is showing that diet soda consumption is also tied to a higher risk for stroke. The reason is that diet soda is filled with chemicals that trick the body into producing the same insulin that’s associated with eating sweets. Skip the soft drinks altogether.


Question: To commemorate Heart Health Month you are having a blood drive that features one of your patients that benefitted from a blood donation?

Answer: That’s right. There is a constant need for a regular supply of blood because blood can be stored only for a limited period of time before use. That is why blood drives like the one on Wednesday, February 7, at UHC is so important.

Blood donations allowed one of my patients, Donald Hamilton, an 86-year-old musician from Bridgeport, to resume his full and active lifestyle, which includes playing multiple musical instruments and writing books.

While a patient, he developed an abnormal collection of blood outside his blood vessel, known as a hematoma, resulting in his need for three units of blood.

Mr. Hamilton is so grateful for the anonymous volunteer donors who saved his life, which he wanted to share his story and encourage people to donate at UHC's Blood Drive from 10 am to 3:30 pm, on Wednesday, February 7.