Live Well Wednesday

Maintaining a Healthy Heart


At Compass Community Health Care Center we are dedicated to providing the best health care possible. We are listening to our patients, families, and community with their health concerns and questions. Watch for #LiveWellWednesday posts each Wednesday evening, which focus on giving you the information and tips you need to understand current health care concerns and topics.

Today’s topic is Maintaining a Healthy Heart, by Paul (PJ) Adkins, Compass Community Health Care Center Family Nurse Practitioner.

In honor of February being Heart Health Month, we will be highlighting heart health issues and topics all this month during our #LiveWellWednesday posts. Be sure to check back each Wednesday in February for more information from Compass Community Health Care Center Family Nurse Practitioner, Paul Adkins.

Heart health should not only be a topic of concern for February, but year round. I would like to encourage all of you to begin making small changes in your lifestyle to make heart health a priority.

Atherosclerotic heart disease is an accumulation of cholesterol deposits and plaques inside the coronary arteries. Theses plaques can limit blood flow resulting in a heart attack or stroke.  Smokers can develop coronary disease in tiny vessels that are not able to be stented or intervened upon with angioplasty.  Coronary microvascular heart disease causes chronic chest pain and recurrent shortness of breath and  is more common in women than men, but cigarette smoking is typically the main cause of disease in the tiny coronary vessels.  I encourage all smokers to quit and many resources are available to help people quit.

Routine medical provider visits should be made or kept for check-ups and screenings to set health goals to prevent heart disease. EKG’s, blood pressure check, cholesterol check, screening for diabetes, and physical assessment of your heart sounds are important screenings for all adults.

Exercise should be part of your daily routine. Walking fifteen to twenty minutes continuously everyday is a reasonable goal. Thirty minutes of exercise five days a week is  now recommended.

Your diet and cooking routines should incorporate using less salt, less saturated fats, lower carbohydrates, and lean meats. Foods to limit are red meat, full-fat dairy products, deep-fried foods, bakery products, packaged snacks, chips, cookies, and margarines.

Medications should be taken as prescribed; especially medications for high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

Smoking cessation should be a key focus of heart health as well since it can greatly reduce your risk for heart attack or stroke.

The blood pressure goal should be less than 130/80 mmHg if you are 60 years old or less and less than 140/90 if you are greater than 60 years old.

A lower A1C will lower your risk of heart disease. Diabetics should aim for an A1C less than 6.5 while non-diabetics should aim for an A1C less than 6.0.

Everyone should be aware of there cholesterol numbers as elevated cholesterol increases your heart disease risk. Total cholesterol should be less than 200, HDL(good cholesterol) should be greater than 40, LDL (bad cholesterol) should be less than 130 in patients without coronary disease and less than 70 in patients with coronary disease, triglyceride levels should be less than 150.

Medications like aspirin, plavix, brilinta, and effient are important trio continue taking after cardiac stents are placed as they help keep the stents from clotting off. Patients should not stop these medications without talking to their cardiologist first.  Cholesterol and blood pressure medications are crucial in maintaining heart health in those patients with coronary disease and help prevent coronary disease in those with known risk factors.  Risk factors include smoking, high cholesterol, strong family history, diabetes, obesity, and sedentary lifestyle.  Maintaining a healthy weight is important as obesity can lead to metabolic syndrome processes like high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol which greatly increase your risk for developing heart disease. Getting good quality sleep on a routine basis will help keep your heart healthy as sleep deprivation leads to other medical issues. Regular dentist check-ups and cleanings are important as dental abscesses can result in heart valve infections.  Poor dental hygiene is also known to lead to diabetes.  Limit your stress and stay active. Daily fitness trackers like Fitbits can help you assess your steps and daily activity.

We look forward to seeing you at your next appointment or as a new patient to discuss your heart health, setting health goals, and developing a game plan to keep your heart healthy. You owe it to your heart to at least have a yearly check-up with screenings.

For additional information on this topic check out the American Heart Association at or to schedule an appointment with one of our providers, please contact our office 740-355-7102.

#LiveWellWednesday                 #CompassCares

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