The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Speaker dispels myths about heart disease

By Shelly Williams/editor-in-chief

It’s a message that even presidents must understand, cardiologist Sreenivas Gudimetla said in the Heart-Healthy Luncheon Feb. 10 on NE Campus.

Gudimetla gave an overview about women and heart disease to participants, starting with a political figure’s cardiology case.

“WJC’s 54 years old,” he said. “He’s a former chief executive. He has a personal cook in a suburban New York home. He’s a non-smoker but has a fondness for cigars. And he used to walk his dog regularly. So he decides to go the doctor and get a cardiac risk assessment to try and decide whether or not to go on medication for his blood pressure.”

As he spoke more about the patient’s details, Gudimetla showed a picture of former President Bill Clinton [full name: William Jefferson Clinton, or WJC]. Two months after the patient’s assessment, Clinton developed chest discomfort because of blockage forming in the heart arteries and eventually underwent urgent bypass surgery, Gudimetla said.

People like Clinton, who only last week returned to the hospital to have a clogged artery opened, usually are seen as the faces of heart disease, which Gudimetla said is not the case.

“Often we think about heart disease as a disease of men, but in actuality it’s the number one killer in women,” he said. “One in every three women have some form of cardiovascular disease. I’m not only talking about disease of the blood vessels in the heart, but we’re talking about the disease in the blood vessels among other parts of the body such as the legs, the brain and so forth.”

Gudimetla said though people can’t control family history, they can focus on intervening factors that make a difference in preventing heart disease.

“High cholesterol is definitely a modifiable risk factor,” he said. “Over half of females have high cholesterol, and we don’t think about that, even young females age 20 or greater. We think of high cholesterol as the disease of the elderly.”

Smoking is the biggest modifiable factor in heart disease, Gudimetla said.

“Almost 20 percent of women 18 and over smoke,” he said. “It wreaks all sorts of havoc on the cardiovascular system. It can cause an increase in the plaque build-up in the heart arteries. It can cause increasing blood clot formations in the heart arteries, which leads to heart attacks. It lowers your good cholesterol. It raises bad cholesterol. It can also cause the raising of your blood pressure as well. So smoking has all sorts of bad effects.”

Gudimetla then showed his audience a picture of people riding an escalator to a fitness center to illustrate physical activity’s importance in preventing heart disease.

“Almost a third or greater of women are physically inactive,” he said. “Physical activity also has some very beneficial effects in lowering heart attack risk. It lowers blood pressure. It reduces the heart rate, meaning the heart doesn’t have to work hard. What is recommended in terms of exercise is 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day if possible. If you want to lose weight on top of that, it’s recommended that you do 60 or 90 minutes of physical activity.”

He said more exercise also lowers the risk of diabetes. Obesity is one of many contributing factors to heart disease and diabetes.

“We are an obese country,” he said, showing PowerPoint slides of the nation’s increase in obesity since 1986. “When I fly overseas, whether it’s a mission trip or a vacation, you can spot the American on the plane. You can walk down the streets. You’ll know who’s American and who’s not American. It’s kind of embarrassing. We as a population are obese.”

Diabetes is treated as a heart disease equivalent, Gudimetla said. It lowers the good cholesterol and raises the bad cholesterol.

“Controlling diabetes, both by reducing your weight, exercising and, if necessary, medications, is essential to reducing cardiac events,” he said.

“Heart disease is the number one killer of women. It’s the number one killer of men too, but it is preventable with taking good steps and living a heart-healthy lifestyle.”

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