Heart disease is a leading cause of premature death in the Bronx.1 Many of the causes are preventable. So, ongoing treatment must involve a strict plan to prevent future complications or death.
Our hearts are working non-stop to pump vital nutrients around the body. If something goes wrong, it can be a very scary time for you and your family.
Luckily, there have been huge advances in treatment for heart disease, such as medication and cardiac surgery, which is not as dangerous as it once was.2 However, your heart is permanently affected. Although there is some disagreement as to whether or not you can completely get rid of heart disease, you can help to prevent further incidents by making big and lasting changes to your lifestyle.3, 4
The risks of living with heart disease are very real. In New York City, the Bronx has a higher-than-average mortality rate for heart disease and strokes.5
Here are some statistics about the very real threat heart disease poses.
- A 2017 study by the New York City Health Department showed that 22% of all deaths from heart disease in the Bronx occur in adults under the age of 65; the state average is 17%.6
- 27% of all deaths from strokes in the Bronx occur in adults under the age of 65; the state average is 21%.7
- Black adults in New York are particularly affected. The same study revealed that black adults were 2.1 and 1.8 times more likely to die prematurely from heart disease than Latino and white adults, respectively.8
- Heart attacks are affecting increasing numbers of people in their 20s and 30s.9
- In New York City, heart disease is the 6th leading cause of death amongst 15 to 35-year-olds, the 3rd leading cause of death in 35 to 44-year-olds and the 2nd leading cause of death in 45 to 64-year-olds.10
So, we've established that heart disease is extremely dangerous, and affects adults of all ages. What can you do today to help protect yourself?
47% of people in the U.S. have at least one of the three main risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and being a smoker.11 Other factors include obesity, type 2 diabetes, stress, and poor diet.12
Here are some tips on how you can start lowering your risk today.
Get regular exercise. Your heart is a muscle that needs training too. Thirty minutes of raising your heart rate a day is enough to keep your heart in check. You mustn't over exert your heart, so depending on your risk level, no sprinting just yet. You should start with low to moderate exercise such as walking, and gradually build the intensity. As well as giving your heart a workout, exercise helps keep your weight in check and lowers stress levels, regulating your blood pressure. Talk to your primary physician, who can help you draw up a suitable exercise plan.13
Eat right. Use less salt to lower your blood pressure. Bananas are a great source of potassium which is also great for regulating blood pressure.14 Use less saturated fat to lower your cholesterol by switching out animal fats like lard and butter for vegetable oils.15 Processed foods are packed with salt and sugar, so cook from scratch.16 It doesn't have to be expensive or time-consuming. Slow cookers are a great way to cook easy stews.
Quit smoking. Take your heart health seriously. Smoking causes plaque buildup in your arteries; so, even if you're a perfect weight and eat relatively well, if you're a smoker, you're still at a higher risk. We know it's challenging to quit, but it's easier than needing to see a vascular doctor or cardiothoracic surgeon to deal with the consequences.17
Keep stress in check. Working long hours, a difficult commute, pressure from your boss, financial worries, family problems, internet trolls — we have to juggle a lot of things in 21st century New York. Stress plays havoc on our blood pressure. As well as looking at how we can change our daily habits to mitigate stress, breathing exercises and mindfulness meditation are clinically proven to help.
Preventive care is the best way to maintain your heart health. But, the above suggestions cannot help you if there is already something seriously wrong. If you suspect you may already have a heart condition, we're here to help you with a great team of cardiology doctors. BronxDocs can help you should you be in need of a vascular doctor or a heart doctor.
What to do if you're at heightened risk
If after reading this information you believe you are at heightened risk, be particularly alert for the symptoms of heart disease. If you have experienced the following symptoms, visit a cardiologist in the Bronx immediately to rule out anything serious.18
- Fast or slow heartbeat
- Fluttering in your chest
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Lightheadedness / dizziness
Call 911 immediately if you have:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
Not everyone has the same symptoms for a heart attack. It may be accompanied by shooting pains in the arm, nausea, and a cold sweat.
Here at BronxDocs
We regularly diagnose and treat a full range of heart-related conditions and illnesses. Common conditions include but are not limited to:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Coronary artery disease
- Congestive heart failure
- Lipid and cholesterol disorders
We're committed to giving your symptoms and concerns the attention they deserve. Lives are tragically lost when people make light of their symptoms and do not seek medical attention early enough. Our team will work quickly to diagnose and treat your heart condition, and work together to create an ongoing treatment plan to prevent future complications.
Heart conditions share some of the same symptoms as lung conditions, so be prepared that you may be referred to a pulmonologist. For more information, visit our pulmonology page under our list of services.
5. New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. (Nov. 2017)
6. New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. (Nov. 2017)
7. New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. (Nov. 2017)
8. New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. (Nov. 2017)
9. Yang, Junjie. et al. Risk Factor Profiles and Outcomes of Very Young Adults with Myocardial Infarction: Result from the Young-Mi Registry Journal of the Americal College of Cardiology 73 (9 Supplement 2) 3Mar. 2019. doi: 10.1016/S0735-1097(19)33765-9
12. CDC. “Heart Disease Facts” (Nov. 2017)
14. Houston, M.C. “The Importance of Potassium in Managing Hypertension” (2011) Current Hypertension Reports Aug. 2011. Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 309–317