How to lower the risk of developing heart disease

Shaun Setty, MD, Medical Director, Pediatric & Adult Congenital Heart Program, Miller Children’s Hospital

Gregory Thomas, MD, Medical Director, MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute, Long Beach Memorial

For more than 1 million Americans annually diagnosed with heart disease, there’s great hope. Two-thirds survive the disease— 27 percent higher than a decade ago, and impressive new technologies and techniques show tremendous promise.

Smart Business turned to nationally prominent experts Gregory S. Thomas, MD, MPH, Medical Director, MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Long Beach Memorial and Shaun Setty, MD, Medical Director, Pediatric & Adult Congenital Heart Program at Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach. The two hospitals share one campus, ensuring those facing heart disease can easily access a lifetime of world-class, comprehensive and coordinated services.

What risk factors are most prevalent?

Sedentary lifestyles, smoking, obesity, and consuming saturated and trans fats — prevalent in our society — negatively impact cholesterol counts and blood pressure levels and can cause dangerous plaque build-up in coronary arteries. One in three California children is overweight, many mirroring their parents’ unhealthy habits. This increases heart disease risks as adults, making family fitness and healthy eating essential.

Almost one in 100 babies are born with congenital heart disease. These abnormalities in cardiovascular structures may produce symptoms at birth, during childhood or as adults. While most defects are simple conditions or need no treatment, some require medical attention soon after birth and monitoring throughout adulthood.

How can health risks be lowered?

Lowering cholesterol and treating high blood pressure can reduce risks of dying of heart disease or needing invasive procedures. It’s important to maintain an appropriate weight, eat foods low in cholesterol and fat, reduce stress, control blood pressure, exercise frequently, access appropriate screenings and follow your doctor’s advice.

What advances are available locally?

MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Long Beach Memorial is one of the most comprehensive centers for diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of cardiovascular disease. Our nationally known cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons perform 20,000 diagnostic and surgical procedures each year. Our Chest Pain Center was one of the first two in U.S. hospitals. Emergency treatment times at our cardiac paramedic receiving centers beat the national average, as do our cardiac outcomes. We’re the region’s only hospital with a 320-slice CT scanner, providing superior imaging for early and accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Miller Children’s Hospital pre-eminent Pediatric Cardiac Team diagnoses and treats children of all ages with congenital or acquired heart disease or who have a family history — from as early as in the womb during pregnancy to young adults. The Pediatric Cardiac Center, Cardiac Surgery Program and other specialized pediatric services provide comprehensive care to the patient, family and community.

MemorialCare hospitals perform among the highest numbers of robotic heart surgeries nationally. These procedures enable surgeons to operate with unprecedented precision through tiny incisions with less trauma to the body, faster recoveries, and minimal pain and scarring.

How can we create a healthier workplace?

The workplace can help achieve better health by ensuring exercise opportunities and availability of fruits, vegetables and nutritious foods.

MemorialCare provides work site prevention and screenings, as well as heart healthy programs in the community and schools. tools help evaluate medical risks. Health guides outline heart attack symptoms, healthy eating and women’s wellness.

MemorialCare Health System, a not-for profit, integrated delivery system, includes six top hospitals — Long Beach Memorial, Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach, Community Hospital Long Beach, Orange Coast Memorial, and Saddleback Memorial in Laguna Hills and San Clemente; medical groups — MemorialCare Medical Group and Memorial Prompt Care; the Independent Practice Association (IPA) Greater Newport Physicians; retail health centers; and numerous outpatient centers throughout the Southland.

Gregory Thomas, MD, is medical director of MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Long Beach Memorial. Shaun Setty, MD, is medical director of the Pediatric & Adult Congenital Heart Program at Miller Children’s Hospital.

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