Heart Month: Heart Experts Answer Common Questions

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Heart Health month, Cedars-Sinai

In celebration of American Heart Month, we asked Cedars-Sinai experts a few questions about heart health.

Our panel:

What’s a common misconception about heart health?

Dr. Chugh: Exertion can harm the heart. With rare exceptions, exercise saves many more lives than it takes.

Dr. Henry: Women don’t get coronary artery disease or heart attacks.

Dr. Bairey Merz: Young women cannot get or die from heart disease.

Dr. Zahn: Children cannot have heart disease.

Dr. Wei: It only happens in older men or women. Heart-disease death rates in women younger than 55 are going up.


Read: Heart Attack, Cardiac Arrest, Heart Failure—What’s the Difference?


What’s one thing anyone can do to protect their heart?

Dr. Chugh: 30 minutes of moderate exercise, like walking, 5 days a week.

Dr. Henry: Stop smoking, exercise, know your blood pressure and cholesterol, and treat if needed.

Dr. Bairey Merz: Don’t smoke and don’t allow others to smoke in your space.

Dr. Kittleson: Exercise is critical. Not only does it improve weight, blood pressure, diabetes control, and cholesterol, it’s also an early-detection system. If you’re exercising regularly, you are in tune with your body and can notice exertional limitations that may signal heart problems.

Dr. Wei: Know your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers and seek treatment if they are elevated.

What’s a sign that something may be wrong with my heart?

Dr. Chugh: Possible signs that should not be ignored include chest pain, shortness of breath with exertion, dizziness, palpitations, and fainting spells.

Dr. Henry: Chest pain or shortness of breath.

Dr. Bairey Merz: Any symptom above the waist that is unusual for you.

Dr. Kittleson: A change in your stamina, endurance, or energy levels with exercise.

Dr. Wei: Chest discomfort or shortness of breath while exercising.


Read: Fighting Heart Disease in Young Women


What’s the most important thing you want people to know about heart health?

Dr. Chugh: Heart health is an achievable goal.

Dr. Henry: There are tangible ways to promote heart-healthy living!

Dr. Bairey Merz: Application of research findings has led to a 50% reduction in heart disease death, but we need more research to find cures.

Dr. Zahn: Congenital heart disease is a lifelong diagnosis and follow-up is critical to maintaining good heart health.

Dr. Wei: Adverse pregnancy outcomes such as gestational hypertension, preeclampsia, and preterm labor are associated with future maternal cardiovascular disease, so women with these conditions should get regular check-ups for cardiac risk counseling.

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