by TERESA SCHIFFER
Sponsored by Central Florida Health Care
The motto of Central Florida Health Care is “Health Care With a Heart,” and February is American Heart Health Month, making it the perfect time to consider what we can all do to help protect our heart health. This is especially important when we consider the high number of people in Florida who have experienced life-threatening cardiac events.
Dr. Andrew Hein, a family medicine specialist with Central Florida Health Care, provides some shocking perspective on this trend.
“In Florida, much like the rest of the United States, heart disease is an impactful disease. Five percent of adults in this state, from the most recent data available, have reported ever having had a heart attack. So that means a fairly significant number of individuals have had a heart attack.”
When it comes to heart disease, it is not wise to wait until a serious problem emerges before taking action to protect your health.
“We like to think in terms of not just treating heart disease, but really going back to the core concept of prevention,” Dr. Hein explains. “There’s two types of prevention that we think about in the medical community. There’s primary prevention, meaning people who don’t have risks, people who have never had any problems. How do we prevent them from having problems down the road? And there’s secondary prevention, people who’ve had heart disease or issues. How do we prevent them from having future events, such as future heart attacks or strokes?”
The first step toward proactive heart health is understanding your risk. A patient’s primary care physician should be able to help an individual determine their risk factors with the use of risk calculators. Risk factors include such characteristics as age, race, gender, family medical history, plus lifestyle factors like smoking. However, there are factors that can affect a person’s heart health that aren’t always considered in the standard calculators.
“That’s where having a multidisciplinary approach comes into play,” Dr. Hein says. “We know that stress is a huge factor. How do we help patients navigate the stressful environments that they are living in? Struggling with social determinants of health, with getting food, getting the right foods, they’ve lost a job, they’re struggling with issues at home. We have to be part of a solution of helping patients, not just giving them medicine or a pill.”
At Central Florida Health Care, different doctors and specialists collaborate to create a unified approach to patient health. This type of teamwork can identify risk factors that might otherwise go unnoticed.
“We like to think in terms of a multidisciplinary approach, a holistic approach,” Dr. Hein comments.
He says the clinic has a behavioral health department that helps patients identify and resolve stress factors.
“There’s recently been a lot of research on this whole concept of mental ischemia that’s come into the conversation about heart disease,” he says. “When we have stressful events, how does that literally, at a physiological level, affect our heart and lead to heart attacks?”
Keeping a patient’s heart healthy is one key component of overall healthcare. Central Florida Health Care provides quality medical care by considering all aspects of patient health in order to find solutions to benefit each individual.