How to prevent cardiac disease
Healthy hearts are strong evidence of maintaining healthy lifestyles, and this is a sure way to preventing cardiac disease.
When a patient reaches the point of needing a heart stent or bypass surgery, it is a sign of defeat, said S. Fernando Soto, M.D. Heart disease and strokes are the result of biochemical disease, which is systemic, he explained. He defined "systemic" as a condition that is not localized but, rather, "is all over the body and not in one place."
A stent is a metallic mesh cuff that is inserted after an artery has been dilated with a balloon so that it does not block again. In bypass surgery, a piece of artery or vein is used to go around an obstruction in an artery any place in the body.
"Stents and bypasses are focal mechanical corrections," Dr. Soto said. "As wonderful as they are, if we don't prevent people from getting to that point, we can spend the entire national budget on taking care of atherosclerosis." Atherosclerosis is an accumulation of cholesterol or scar tissue, causing obstruction of an artery anywhere in the body.
On the other side of this, Dr. Soto said if "we don't notify" patients of the factors that got them to where they needed these procedures, "they are coming back for more."
So, he said he puts emphasis on the need for exercise, and a sensible diet. By a sensible diet, the doctor means one that is low in salts, simple carbohydrates and saturated fats. Exercise Dr. Soto recommends is walking or bicycling for at least 30 minutes a day.
The patients who have had the stent or bypass will have to take certain medications for the rest of their lives, because when they come to our hands, the disease is chronic and not going to go away."
Smoking cessation is another key to heart health, Dr. Soto said, adding that American society needs to keep young people from starting to smoke, because it's difficult for adults to quit the habit.
Particular symptoms that should alert people to seek medical attention are tightness in the chest or throat, shortness of breath out of proportion with activity and an irregular heart beat while doing physical activity, Dr. Soto said.
Dr. Soto is associated with Yavapai Regional Medical Center's Physician Care group.
His specialty is non-invasive cardiovascular medicine. He is board certified in internal medicine and cardiovascular diseases.