WARSAW — February is all about hearts – and not just because of Valentine’s Day. February is also heart health month.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death globally, but it is preventable when individuals make healthy lifestyle choices and manage their health conditions.
Cardiology services have recently become available at the Beyer Medical Building with the addition of the Lutheran Health Physicians Cardiology Clinic, located at 1205 Provident Drive, Warsaw. The clinic, under the leadership of Cardiologist Dr. Mark Meier, offers local residents access to specialty care Monday through Friday.
“Cardiovascular deaths outnumber pulmonary deaths and cancer deaths,” said Meier. “The fact is that one in three people die of heart disease.”
According to Meier, “Heart disease is not one disease. What we see is coronary artery disease, which is what causes heart attacks, cardiomyopathy, which is disease in the heart muscle and heart rhythm issues – and these are all problems that we can adequately address in Warsaw.”
Most cases of coronary artery disease in particular are tied to risk factors, including high cholesterol, inactivity, poor diet, smoking and high blood pressure.
“We know that as many as 80 percent of heart attacks could be prevented by controlling blood pressure, not smoking, controlling weight, exercising and only drinking alcohol in moderation,” said Meier.
“You don’t need to be a marathoner to be healthy. What you need is thirty to sixty minutes a day, five days a week of moderate intensity exercise,” Meier stated, adding that resistance training is also important. Meier recommends at least three days a week of light to moderate resistance training.
Meier said it’s possible that a heart-healthy diet, one that includes fruits and vegetables, and avoidance of processed foods, trans fats and red meat could help to reverse coronary artery disease.
“If you look at exercise, proper diet, weight control, not smoking and blood pressure control, only five percent of people adhere to all of these,” said Meier. “If you do adhere to all of these, then your chance of a heart attack goes down by 80 percent.”
Meier also discussed the obesity crisis in the United States. “Childhood obesity is a major problem and it’s exploding,” said Meier. “One in four kids now are overweight.”
“The American society is becoming more obese. Smoking rates have declined but not enough. We’re more inactive than we ever have been before – so it’s a perfect storm,” Meier explained. “We expect that the number of people with heart disease is going to continue to grow. This is why education in children is so important.”
With the addition of cardiology services available at the Beyer Medical Building five days a week, community members can now be evaluated and treated for many heart issues locally, eliminating the need to travel to Indianapolis or Chicago to receive quality heart care.
Meier stated that historically aortic stenosis is treated with open heart surgery; however, many patients are either not a candidate for surgery or are high risk.
“We were the first hospital in this region to offer transcatheter aortic valve replacements,” said Meier. “That’s a procedure that utilizes an artery in the groin to replace the valve, so it does not require open heart surgery.”
“Now we can even do that without general anesthesia and without any incision at all,” explained Meier, who advised he had performed five of these procedures this week.
“We can do it all. As far as I’m aware, we have the only board-certified heart failure transplant cardiologists in the region – and we have two of them,” said Meier.