Martha Jefferson Monday: What is Heart Disease?

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The term "heart disease" can mean different things to different people. In general, it is any problem related to the heart, but can range from high blood pressure to a heart murmur, or even heart failure. It's also important to note it's not just a disease that strikes the elderly.

"Studies have shown that heart disease begins as early as seven to eight years old," said Dr. Ken Yew, a physician at Family Medicine of Albemarle. "People of particular risk would be people who smoke cigarettes, people who have diabetes, people who are sedentary or overweight, or people who have high blood pressure."

Although heart disease can hit anyone, at any time, there are things you can do to help prevent problems.

Dr. Yew suggests adding exercise to your routine. Additionally, if you are a smoker, plan to quit. Last, he says you should pay special attention to what you eat, focusing on heart healthy options like the Mediterranean diet.

If you do think you might have issues, it is also important to remember that heading to the doctor is always the best idea.

"Your doctor is going to ask you some questions, and taking a good thorough history is helpful. Some simple tests like blood work, an EKG, or a stress test are also oftentimes done in order to make the diagnosis," commented Yew.

Dr. Yew says working to avoid heart disease should start at an early age, with parents modeling good behavior and habits for their children.

"The word is, prevention starts early."

For more information on this topic, call Health Connection at (434) 654-7009.

If you have a question you'd like for us to answer, email healthquestions@nbc29.com.

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