February is heart month and in commemoration, Markham Stouffville Hospital (MSH) lead cardiologist Dr. Joseph Minkowitz and cardiac nurse practitioner Sue Feltham are providing tips on how to reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Smoking is a major risk factor for coronary artery disease. It’s never too late to quit. There are many community resources to help with smoking cessation and quitting – your primary care provider can help. It is difficult to quit – we suggest a multifaceted approach that includes a weaning of nicotine through replacement therapy with patches, inhalers, gum or vaporizers along with emotional and social support from family, friends and healthcare professionals.
- The current recommendation for exercise is 150 mins per week. This can be walking over lunch, short-interval high-intensity exercise throughout the day/week or even longer intervals over the weekend such as hiking or biking. The important first step is to start. Five minutes per week is better than zero. Start slow and increase gradually.
- Eat lots of green leafy vegetables and other vegetables that grow above the soil, lean meats and fish, healthy fats and oils – such as olive oil. Treat bread like cake – eat it only on special occasions.
- Diabetes is another major risk factor for coronary artery disease. Reduce your risk for developing type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes by having the right balance of fat, protein and complex carbohydrates in your daily diet. Complex carbohydrates include foods like whole wheat breads and unprocessed cereals, brown rice and legumes. Limit your intake of simple sugars like regular pop, jam, sugar and sweets.
- It is important to visit your family doctor or nurse practitioner to screen for high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes, especially if there is a family history of coronary artery disease or heart attacks. Family history is when a first degree relative – parents or siblings – developed heart disease in their 50s or 60s.
The cardiology program at MSH provides patients in the community with high-quality cardiac care close to home. The program offers inpatient services as well as outpatient services such as the Chest Pain Clinic and Heart Failure Clinic. They also offer comprehensive diagnostic tests such as cardiac stress test, nuclear stress testing, transthoracic and transesophageal echocardiography, holter monitoring and more.
Visit msh.on.ca for more information.
Photo: Markham Stouffville Hospital lead cardiologist Dr. Joseph Minkowitz and cardiac nurse practitioner Sue Feltham provide tips on how to reduce the risk of heart disease.