heart health, primary care doctors, avon, amherstIt is true that regular exercise and eating healthy are the two best pathways to improved health, but for some, a health evaluation may be the best way to get started down the road of wellness.

You should start with a self-evaluation and check in with your health care provider if you think you have risk factors. Heart disease risk factors – like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, a family history of heart disease, a smoking habit, obesity, or pre-diabetes should all be considered before beginning an exercise program, and worth a call to your doctor.

If you don’t have a heart disease risk factor, but are new to exercise, The American College of Sports Medicine recommends talking to your doctor if you answer yes to any of these questions:

  • Do you have a heart condition?
  • Do you feel pain in your chest during exertion?
  • Do you have chest pain when not exerting yourself?
  • Do you ever lose your balance or feel dizzy?
  • Do you have any bone or joint issues?
  • Are you on prescription drugs for high blood pressure or a heart condition?
  • Do you have any other health issues that could be affected by exercise?

As with anything new, the key is to start slowly and learn proper technique before beginning.

Symptoms of heart disease

Approximately 610,000 Americans die from heart disease each year—that’s one in every four deaths.  Age, genetics and lifestyle factors all contribute to plaque buildup in your arteries. In men, the risk for coronary heart disease increases at age 45. In women, the risk for coronary heart disease increases at age 55.

Heart disease symptoms can include:

  • Chest pain (angina) or discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain, numbness, weakness or coldness in your legs or arms
  • Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen or back
  • Fluttering in your chest
  • Racing heartbeat (tachycardia) or slow heartbeat (bradycardia)
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting (syncope) or near fainting
  • Swelling of the legs, ankles and feet
  • Dry or persistent cough

Symptoms can vary drastically between men and women. Men are more likely to have chest pain; women are more likely to have symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea and extreme fatigue.

Treatments for heart disease

Treatments for heart disease can vary widely depending on severity of the condition and can include lifestyle changes, medication, surgery, stents, pacemakers and ablation. The outlook for those with heart disease can be quite good. Regular screenings are required. It is important to talk to a doctor about your risk for heart disease and what you can do to lower your chances.

When consulting with your health care provider about a new exercise regimen, ask about appropriate exercises and safety guidelines, such as workout duration and the intensity level best for you.

You can also contact the physicians at NorthShore Healthcare Primary Care for details. Located in Northeast Ohio, the group focuses on the optimum care of each patient with next generation medicine and an enhanced patient experience. NorthShore Primary Care doctors, Jennifer Carandang, MD, Sheila Rice, MD and Rebecca Ware, MD are three of the area’s most highly-regarded and respected primary care physicians. To learn more, visit our website or call our offices in Amherst at (440) 455-3090 or Avon at (440) 653-8091.