Having a primary care doctor is important for annual wellness visits/physicals and vaccinations, but your doctor can also be your first line of defense for serious illnesses, such as heart disease.
An unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, smoking and excessive use of alcohol are lifestyle choices that can contribute to a higher risk for heart disease, but some of the ways your doctor can help you avoid or better manage these conditions are:
Nutrition Counseling – Eating healthy is one of the primary ways to help prevent heart disease. Talk to your doctor about how you can better meet your nutritional needs. They may also refer you to a specialist, such as a nutritionist.
Monitoring your Blood Pressure – If you have hypertension (high blood pressure), you may not have any symptoms, which is why it is so important to have your blood pressure monitored on a regular basis. Your doctor will monitor your blood pressure during your annual wellness visits, or more often if you have high blood pressure.
Managing diabetes – Diabetes and Heart disease often go hand in hand because high blood sugar can damage the blood vessels along with the nerves that control your heart. Diabetes can also lead to heart failure, a serious condition that means the heart is not pumping blood well. Your doctor can help create a personalized care plan for your specific needs.
Checking your Cholesterol – Blood cholesterol is a wax-like, fatty substance that your body needs to build cells and make vitamins and other hormones. But too much cholesterol can pose a problem. Meat, poultry and dairy products all contain dietary cholesterol, which are also high in saturated and trans fats. These fats cause your liver to make more cholesterol than it otherwise would. For some people, this added production means they go from a normal cholesterol level to one that’s unhealthy. It can build up in the arteries, causing them to become narrow and restrict blood flow. Much like high blood pressure, this could happen without many symptoms, and without you knowing until you suffer a heart attack. Routine doctor visits are very important so your doctor can help keep your cholesterol in check.
Cardiologist referral – If the modifications listed above do not seem to be working, your doctor may refer you to a cardiologist for a higher level of specialized care.
During Heart Month 2022, we’d like to remind you that having a primary care doctor and keeping your annual wellness visits are vital to your overall wellbeing. If you do not have a doctor, the Coalition’s clinics, Bassett Family Practice (276-629-1076) and Ridgeway Family Health (276-956-2233) are welcoming new patients. All insurances are welcome, but not required. Do your heart a favor and schedule an appointment with a doctor.