Lifestyle Choices & Lifelong Rewards: The Road to Better Heart Health


Sponsored by Central Florida Health Care

Heart disease is one of the biggest medical issues we face in the modern age. It affects millions of Americans and is a leading cause of death in the US. Because of this, it’s a major concern for healthcare providers, who frequently treat patients suffering from or at high risk for heart disease. Central Florida Health News sat down with one such physician, Dr. Brian Greene, a primary care physician in Central Florida Health Care’s Frostproof office, to discuss heart health. 

“Heart disease is a large grouping of diseases that have to do with stroke, peripheral artery disease, coronary artery disease, heart failure, and any pathological heart conditions in general that are preventable,” Greene explains. 

A number of risk factors contribute to the development of heart disease here in the US, and the majority of them are related to lifestyle. 

“The big risk factors are smoking, obesity, and unhealthy diet,” Greene says. “Also, a lack of good physical activity and a sedentary lifestyle. And of course, hypertension, and the biggie, diabetes.”

Thankfully, by making certain lifestyle changes, you can greatly reduce your chances of developing heart disease. 

“The number one modifiable risk factor is to stop smoking. By far that is the biggest thing that you can do,” explains Dr. Greene. “Controlling weight and obesity is also important because the heart just doesn’t have to work as hard to circulate the volume of blood that it would in a larger person. Daily physical activity is another huge factor that I’ve talked to a lot of patients about. And often they respond, ‘You know, I work all day long, I walk all day, why isn’t that enough?’ And the thing is that the exercise that needs to happen is a constant 20 to 40 minutes of aerobic exercise that is not interrupted by little stops.”

Central Florida Health Care offers a variety of services and treatments for those at risk of heart disease.

“In addition to all of the other things that we talk about like quitting smoking, we would start to talk about controlling your glycemic problem with better eating habits and medications. And then we get to an area where we start to talk about statin medications,” he explains. “Statin medications are very important for people with high risk. For those patients that are at age 40 or over and are at 10% or higher risk for 10-year cardiovascular events, we usually start a medium intensity statin medication.”

By taking control of their health and making changes to improve their heart health, patients can expect a number of improvements in their lives. 

“The rewards are pretty vast,” Greene explains. “We have patients who have been smoking for years, and their children have been saying, ‘You know mom, I wish you would quit smoking,’ and now they’re not only breathing better, but their family is happier. Or you have a spiraling diabetic who has been gaining weight for a long, long time, and finally gets things under control. They don’t gain weight as much anymore and they start to feel like they can exercise and do things that they weren’t able to before. “

While some people may be hesitant to seek medical care, he offers some words of encouragement.

“There’s an innate problem of trust in the medical system, and some of that is very valid, and much of it stems from providers who have not connected well with their patients. But we go to medical school and we do the things that we do so that we can care for people. We want you to come and we want you to take care of yourself, and we want to help you be as healthy as you can be. Our job as primary care providers is to improve your quality of life, whether that life is five years or 50 years.”

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