Because heart disease is often accompanied by vague symptoms or none at all, many people aren’t even aware they are at risk until they suffer a major health event, such as a heart attack.
But Dr. Nadia Fida, an advanced heart failure, pulmonary hypertension and cardiac transplant cardiologist with Houston Methodist DeBakey Cardiology Associates and director of the Heart Failure Clinic at Houston Methodist San Jacinto Hospital, says the good news is that you can take steps—including getting regular blood pressure and cholesterol level checks—to prevent heart disease or keep it from progressing.
“Healthy lifestyle habits, such as eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and staying active can go a long way,” said Fida. “If you’ve been diagnosed with heart disease, or you’re at risk, sit down with your doctor and talk about what you should do next. Get educated on the disease.”
Receive free cholesterol and blood pressure screenings and learn your 10-year risk for heart disease at the free Heart Health event from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Houston Methodist San Jacinto Hospital on Wednesday, February 14.
In the following Q&A, Dr. Fida sheds light on a variety of heart-related matters.
Q: What does the term “heart failure” mean?
Fida: Heart failure occurs when the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs or can’t pump blood to the rest of the body with enough force. This is most often caused by damage to the heart stemming from coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Q: What are the most serious possible complications of atrial fibrillation (AFib), a common type of heart arrhythmia?
Fida: Stroke and heart failure. Because atrial fibrillation allows blood to pool in the atria of the heart, there’s a greater risk of clots forming. If one of these clots breaks off and travels to the brain, it can trigger a stroke. The very fast beating of the heart’s ventricles means that the heart can’t properly fill with blood and, in turn, may not be able to pump enough blood to the body, leading to eventual heart failure.
Q: Are heart attack and cardiac arrest the same thing?
Fida: No. A heart attack is a circulatory problem that occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked, leaving a portion of the heart without oxygen-rich blood. Cardiac arrest is triggered by an electrical problem in the heart, causing the heart to stop beating.
Q: At what age does the average woman’s heart disease risk increase?
Fida: At around age 55. Before menopause, women tend to have a lower risk of heart disease because of estrogen’s protective benefits. As you get older, however, the risk rises because of plaque buildup in the heart’s arteries. You’re also more likely to develop other risk factors for heart disease as you age, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
Q: How many Americans die of heart disease each year?
Fida: Heart disease claims the lives of about 500,000 Americans every year. Another startling statistic: 50 percent of men and 64 percent of women who die suddenly of heart disease had no previous symptoms.
To register for the Heart Health event on February 14, call 281-428-2273, or visit houstonmethodist.org/events. To learn more about your risk of heart disease and ways to improve your heart health, schedule an appointment with a Houston Methodist San Jacinto Hospital heart specialist by calling 281.837.7587.
About Houston Methodist San Jacinto Hospital
Houston Methodist San Jacinto Hospital has provided Baytown and East Houston with quality medical care since opening its doors in 1948. The hospital has grown throughout the years with the community, providing comprehensive care at all stages of life. As a health care leader, the hospital is proud to have a fully integrated residency program focused on educating and inspiring future practitioners. Today, Houston Methodist San Jacinto provides some of the most advanced and innovative procedures while never losing focus on compassionate and patient-centered care. Houstonmethodist.org/sanjacinto.