How healthy is your heart?

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. for both men and women. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 610,000 people die of heart disease each year. That’s about one in four deaths. The good news is that Naval Hospital (NH) Jacksonville has resources for those seeking a healthier heart.

“Heart health can be improved at any age,” said Capt. Michael Sullivan, M.D., NH Jacksonville director for medical services. “Eat a healthy diet, get physically active, maintain a healthy weight, and quit tobacco.”

Some factors that put people at a higher risk for heart disease are race, ethnicity, or family history. Other factors include lifestyle choices (diet, obesity, tobacco, and alcohol), as well as certain medical conditions (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes).

Patients should visit their primary care manager for checkups. NH Jacksonville’s Medical Home Port teams are dedicated to each patient’s comprehensive care needs, including heart disease prevention.

Patients with complex cases of diabetes can talk to their PCM about enrolling in the diabetes Integrated Practice Units (IPU), which consists of a team of providers dedicated to diabetes. Patients can expect personalized care plans with goals based on the patient’s needs, individual and group appointments with the IPU team, fewer appointments in general (to save time), virtual visits and communications, quicker access to care, a care navigator to help along the way, and improved quality of life.

To control heart disease risk, people should: monitor blood pressure and cholesterol; manage diabetes; eat nutritious foods (avoid foods high in sugar, saturated fats, transfats, and cholesterol); manage weight; get exercise (lack of exercise can increase chances of high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes); quit tobacco (tobacco can damage the heart and blood vessels); limit alcohol (alcohol can raise blood pressure); take prescribed medications; and follow doctors’ treatment plans.

NH Jacksonville’s Wellness Center offers a variety of heart-healthy classes for active duty, retirees, and family members. Classes include health fitness assessments, Choose My Plate (healthy eating), ShipShape (weight loss), and Tobacco Cessation. To sign up, walk in or call the Wellness Center at 904-542-5292, no referrals are needed.

The five major symptoms of a heart attack are pain in the jaw, neck, or back; feeling weak, light-headed, or faint; chest pain or discomfort; pain or discomfort in arms or shoulder; or shortness of breath.

Call 9-1-1 immediately for heart attack symptoms. The sooner a patient gets to an emergency room, the sooner they can receive treatment (to prevent or reduce blockage and heart muscle damage).

In some cases, a heart attack requires cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or electrical shock (defibrillation). Bystanders trained to use CPR or a defibrillator might be able to help until emergency medical personnel arrive.

Remember, the chances of surviving a heart attack are greater, the sooner emergency treatment begins.

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