Heart Health

During my medical internship, I’ll never forget taking care of a young female with lupus who was admitted to the hospital.  She had vague symptoms of fatigue, body aches, mild chest pressure and generally not feeling well. During her hospital stay, she was admitted to the coronary care unit and eventually passed away.  She suffered a heart attack and had inflammation of the layers surrounding the heart muscle.  Her family was devastated and she left a lasting imprint on my mind forever.


Cardiovascular disease is the leading reason for death among men and women in the United States.   There are several RISK FACTORS that can increase your risk for heart disease including family history, age, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and Diabetes.

Certain LIFE STYLE CHOICES can also be associated with a heart attack.  


Eating foods which have high sodium, saturated fat and trans fat content can lead to high blood pressure and eventually atherosclerosis.

Make the healthy eating choice! Eat an abundance of fresh fruits and veggies! That can be difficult to do when you are stressed out or don’t have time to cook however this choice will help take care of your heart in the long run.  Limit the salt and sugar!!

b)      OBESITY

Poor eating habits can lead to obesity another significant risk factor.  Excess body fat can be seen with an increase of triglyceride levels and decrease of HDL or “good” cholesterol  levels.   Regular physical activity can help lower your risk of obesity.  Maintain your ideal BMI or body max index.



Increased alcohol intake can raise blood pressure. Skip that extra cocktail! Drink more water and avoid binge drinking!

d)      SMOKINGJUST SAY NO! Nicotine can raise blood pressure and cause narrowing and damage of the lining of your blood vessels. This reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood.


Most people recognize that having chest pain is an obvious symptom to look for when having a heart attack or coronary event. Ladies, remember that men and women can present differently! Sometimes heart symptoms may be subtle.  Here are some other symptoms to pay close attention to.

 An individual may experience:

–          Extreme fatigue

–          Sweating

–          Nausea

–          Feeling breathless

–          Pain in the neck, jaw,  arms and in between shoulder blades

–          Dizziness

–          Tightness, Pressure , Aching or Squeezing in the chest area

–          Indigestion or uncomfortable sensation in the stomach

–          Generalized Body aches

Do not ignore these symptoms! Females tend not to discuss these symptoms with their physicians. Ladies, please pay attention to your body, especially after menopause when estrogen levels are reduced.


Most people think of arthritis as just a “joint problem”. Did you know that certain types of arthritis or autoimmune conditions are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease?  Certain conditions such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and possibly gout are associated with heart disease.  There have been numerous studies looking at the risk of heart disease and lupus.  There are theories that suggest that increased inflammatory proteins or markers, elevated cholesterol and lipids in the blood, certain antibodies to phospholipids (part of cell membranes which is essential to cell function), and prevalence of premature coronary plaques can all play a role in coronary heart disease in this autoimmune disease specifically.

Similar to Diabetes, having conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis can place an individual at substantial risk for a heart attack and buildup of plaque in the blood vessels from chronic inflammation.

These individuals must be followed by a cardiologist and make adjustments to the lifestyle factors discussed previously.  Also early and aggressive treatment and controlling the specific disease with medications may help reduce complications of heart disease.

Disclaimer:  This blog contains my personal opinion based on personal and clinical experience, tips from trainers, health coaches and lastly research.  This blog does not endorse specific treatments, procedures, products.  You should always consult with a doctor, nutritionist, or other healthcare professional to discuss your own health and lifestyle goals and regimen based on your medical history.  Thank you for reading!