Heart Disease Warning: February 9, 2011

Age is only a number. That’s how the old saying goes and when it comes to heart disease, that’s a fact. “This past month, saw an individual, 27, with cardiovascular pain and blockage, “says Dr. Edward Palank, a Lee Memorial Health System cardiologist. “And we see it in 90 year olds.”

Dr. Palank warns heart disease can strike anyone at any stage of life, no matter how active they are. “Just because I am 40 and I’m playing tennis and I’m active, doesn’t mean I can’t have a cardiovascular problem.”

While heart disease is often thought of as an older person’s problem, Dr. Palank says young people need to be especially on-guard. “There’s a lot of denial. Not going to happen to me,” he explains. “People are still smoking. We’re seeing the incidents in women: higher incidents of heart disease in women. And we also know there’s a higher incident over the past 20 years of women smoking starting earlier. Longer periods of time.”

Smoking is one of the leading causes of heart disease, followed by obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. He warns everyone, especially younger adults, to take a long hard look at their lifestyle habits. “They say, ‘well, I know I need to lose weight’ but they don’t. ‘I know I need to walk’, but they don’t. Intellectually, they understand that they know what they need to do but then they don’t do it.”

Since heart disease is also genetic, a one-on-one discussion with your primary care physician is also recommended. “If you have questions, that’s what your doctor is for."

Stress can also play a significant role in heart disease. Your doctor can recommend strategies to reduce your stress as well.