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Cardiologist Urges Prevention to Fight Heart Disease

Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States, although doctors say it is largely preventable. (cdc.gov)
Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States, although doctors say it is largely preventable. (cdc.gov)
March 5, 2018

DETROIT - Heart disease is the number one health issue for men and women, and a doctor who's been treating people with heart problems for more than three decades says preventive cardiology should be the rule, not the exception.

Dr. Harry Cohen, a cardiologist at Presence Health in Chicago, advised people not to wait until they're sick to change their habits - but instead, to start taking care of themselves now. He said people with heart conditions are living longer, and much of the credit can be given to researchers.

"Even if they're in their 20s, I would say it's not too soon to start paying attention to those things," he said, "because atherosclerotic coronary-artery disease, that starts when you're a teenager."

According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease accounts for more than 800,000 deaths in the United States, or about one in three deaths. In Michigan, there are 600,000 people with some form of heart disease - a number that's expected to rise to two-point-nine million by 2030.

Cohen said open communication and dialogue between patient and physician is key. Often, he said, by the time a person experiences symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath or chronic fatigue and calls their doctor, their medical problems may have progressed to the point where significant intervention is needed. Cohen said the best time to visit the doctor is before symptoms even show up.

"And that's a reflection of our better understanding of the disease process, much better medications available, and much better diagnostic tests that we have currently," he said.

He said causes of heart disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, tobacco use, physical inactivity, obesity, poor nutrition and diabetes.

More information is online at heart.org and healthmetrics.heart.org. Michigan statistics are at michigan.gov.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MI