Diet, exercise key to battling heart disease

Published 3:40 pm Tuesday, February 21, 2012

February is American Heart Month and many people are learning how to avoid being a statistic when it comes to his or her heart.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Web site, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States with one in every three deaths caused by heart disease and stroke.

Dr. Chiazom Omeruah, who specializes in osteopathic medicine at Stabler Clinic, said this is not the “old-man’s disease,” which is what many assume.

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“People think it has to do with age, but it can happen to anyone,” Omeruah said. “Obesity is rampant especially in our younger population. It’s not an old-person disease, and if you don’t take care of yourself and you are not conscious of what you’re putting in your body, it can affect you negatively.”

There are many factors that can affect how strong an individual’s heart may be, which includes diet and exercise and genetics.

“Heart disease could be the result of having arteries blocked, genetics and diet,” Omeruah said. “Heart failure can be a result of a previous heart attack.”

For most people, Omeruah said a regular diet and exercise could help prevent heart disease.

“It has to do with what you put in for what you get out,” Omeruah said. “With diet and exercise in a part from helping you keeping the weight off, it keeps your heart beating strong and builds endurance.”

With her patients, Omeruah tells them to start off with 20 minutes of concentrated exercise to at least break a sweat and then work to 30-minute and 60-minute intervals every day.

“You will see a result as far as maintaining a healthy weight and feeling better and stronger,” she said.

For those individuals who may be older and struggle with brittle bones or lack of muscle, Omereuh said it’s possible to work out even while sitting on a couch.

“Walking is a great exercise, and if they’re homebound or have joint issues, whatever mobility they have, there are different ways of exercising to reduce the affects of gravity,” she said.

Getting in water can help the mobility as well as moving arms in front of the TV. Omeruah said that repeatedly moving a particular body part in a concentrated effort can be a form of exercise.

“(Heart disease) is pretty much what affects your heart negatively and doesn’t allow your heart to perform its normal function, which is to beat and allow blood to circulate to other parts of the body,” Omeruah said.

Some signs that an individual may have heart disease include not being able to perform normal functions like catching a breath, feeling chest pains, having a pain that moves down the arm, numbness and tingling, some nausea and sweating.

“It’s not all (of those symptoms) separately, but that’s a really big sign that people shouldn’t ignore,” Omeruah said.

Omeruah emphasized that people should not assume anything when it comes to heart disease.

“All you can do is play your part in taking care of yourself, and if any of these symptoms arise, visit your doctor,” Omeruah said.