During a recent telephone interview, Dr. Travis Stork honored February, which is Heart Health Month, by focusing on what we can most easily do to maintain a healthy heart. Dr. Stork is co-host of the award-winning television show The Doctors. Dr. Stork stressed exercise. He is a strong believer in patient empowerment when it comes to their health, and he tries to lead by example.
While he suggested walking 30 minutes a day as an easy way to get people started with a good exercise program, he personally takes it much farther. He bikes to work and enjoys road biking as well. He also mountain climbs, goes whitewater kayaking and hiking with his dog, Nala. No, Dr. Stork doesn’t expect us to be that active. He is, however, passionate about educating people about simple ways to attain and maintain good health based on their own life and circumstances. Thus the first step he suggested – literally. Get out and walk. As he says, don’t become a “root vegetable.” That’s descriptive, right?
According to Dr. Stork, most people don’t realize that they make 200-plus health-related decisions every day that dictate how well and how long they live. He believes health is not about the gym or a deprivation diet. Health is achieved by “focusing on those seemingly inconsequential 200-plus decisions people make throughout the day. Many of those decisions can affect your risk factors for heart disease.”
Are you at risk for heart disease?
You most likely know the risks for heart disease, but it doesn’t hurt to read the list again: high cholesterol, high triglycerides, untreated diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, stress and lack of regular exercise.
How do you know if you should rush to the emergency room?
If you are suffering from chest discomfort that lasts for more the a few minutes or chest pain that goes away and then returns, pain in one or both arms or the back, shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness or a cold sweat, you should get yourself checked out immediately. Dr. Stork says that far too many people go to the emergency room too late. Be proactive and don’t be embarrassed if you go in to be checked and find out it’s a gas pain.
Women often have more subtle symptoms
It’s even tougher for women than men to decide if they need ER treatment, because they tend to have more subtle symptoms. Look for fatigue, indigestion, pain and discomfort in the stomach, and/or headaches.
Most of all–and this goes for men, too–if you feel “different” and there’s a gut feeling something is wrong, listen to your body. Get checked out. Dr. Stork said that “something just didn’t feel right” is what he often hears from people who come in to the ER, and they are right. So take action if you feel something unusual is going on with your body.
Heart disease in caregivers and elders can be tricky to diagnose
I asked Dr. Stork how caregivers who frequently fight fatigue and many stress-related issues can tell if they are truly in need of medical attention. He repeated the mantra “if you have a gut feeling that something is wrong, you need to get checked.”
He emphasized that people go through many years of medical training before earning the right to practice medicine. He said even doctors don’t diagnose a heart attack by symptoms alone. That’s why they run tests and do a thorough examination. If a doctor can’t diagnose your heart problem by symptoms alone, the rest of us surely can’t.
Do yourself a favor during February. Remember that it’s Heart Health Month, and put on your walking shoes. Get out the door. Get moving. Your heart needs your cooperation.Posted in Caregiving, Health | 3 Comments »
Tags: Caregiving, Health