Exploring Cardiac Wellness: Conversations with Dr. Petro Lenchur on Heart Attacks and Prevention

In the vital field of cardiology, Dr. Petro Lenchur, a noted MD Cardiologist and Fellow of the American College of Cardiology, provides clear and authoritative insights into achieving good heart health. With his deep knowledge of the heart and related diseases, Dr. Lenchur sheds light on the important aspects of cardiac well-being, heart attack warning signs, risk factors, and prevention strategies.

Doctor Lenchur, what are the most common risk factors for heart attacks, and what can people do to reduce their risk?

– Most common risk factors for heart attack include modifiable and non modifiable risk factors. Modifiable risk factors include smoking, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, sedentary lifestyle. Non modifiable risk factors include advanced age, male gender , stress and to certain extent family history of premature coronary artery disease. If you reduce modifiable risk factors by quitting smoking, managing your hypertension with diet and exercise and medications, managing your diabetes with diet and exercise as well as medications you reduce risk of coronary artery disease and heart attack.

How can someone recognize the early signs of a heart attack, and what should they do if they suspect they or someone else is having one?

– Symptoms and signs of heart attacks could vary from person to person , however common signs and symptoms of heart attack include chest pain, chest pressure or chest discomfort, sometimes heartburn, shortness of breath, nausea, lightheartedness and perspiration. Chest pain sometimes could be localized to upper body and arms, neck, jaw. Many times people experience extreme tiredness in addition to symptoms of chest pains and shortness of breath. First thing to do if somebody suspect heart attack is to call an ambulance /911 ,or to go to nearest emergency room . First choice however would be 911. This way you can get professional help faster.

Dr. Petro Lenchur, Cardiology
Barnabas Health Medical Group
776 E 3rd Ave., Roselle, NJ 07203

– What lifestyle changes can people make to improve their heart health and prevent heart attacks?

– Most important lifestyle changes include diet and exercise. Diet should be well-balanced diet, low-fat, low-cholesterol. Mediterranean diet is probably the best. Regarding exercise -this is very important, patient should exercise approximately 30 minutes a day or at least 45 minutes 3 times a week. Exercise should include cardio /dynamic exercise.

– Can you explain the importance of regular check-ups and screenings for heart health, and how often should people get them?

– Regular checkups with your doctor are important, especially doing simple things like blood test for cholesterol, diabetes, checking blood pressure. If they are elevated then diet and exercise will be prescribed as well as medication to decrease LDL (L stands for lousy cholesterol) and increase HDL (H stands for happy cholesterol). Medications will be given to control blood pressure and decrease sugar levels in addition to diet and exercise. Blood work should be done once a year, or more often if you have new symptoms.

– How do you educate your patients about their heart condition and the steps they can take to manage it?

– Doctors usually explain and educate patients using audio-visual means available to doctors in the office, educate patients trying to explain importance of lifestyle modification, diet and exercise, as well as correcting modifiable risk factors.

– What are some common misconceptions about heart attacks and heart health that you would like to clarify?

One of the biggest misconceptions that people have is not wanting to take statins for management of cholesterol. They give various excuses not to do it. as interventional cardiologist taking care of patients and patient’s arteries on a daily basis I can attest to the importance of taking statins and aggressively managing cholesterol. There is interesting fact: interventional cardiologists, as a group, take highest percentage of statins among all physicians. This is because they see on a daily basis what damage cholesterol does to their patient arteries. There are multiple studies to support use of statins in prevention of heart attacks. People who take statins live longer, have less heart attacks, have less bypass surgeries, have less angioplasties and stenting and have less strokes. No other medication can brag about such a profound effect on people’s life.

– How has technology improved the diagnosis and treatment of heart conditions, and what can patients expect in the future?

– Technology is improving rapidly, we have excellent tests for heart attacks, including EKG, which has been around for more than 100 years as well as cardiac enzymes which are always improving. It is the blood test which could be done rapidly to help diagnose myocardial infarction, bedside ultrasound /echocardiogram(POCUS), availability of coronary angiogram, wide availability of angioplasty and stenting and bypass surgery. Some new tests are developing like CT coronary angiography, coronary calcium score and genetic testing.

– What role does stress play in heart health, and what are some effective ways to manage stress for better heart health?

– Stress is one of the modifiable risk factors of coronary artery disease. Again, the best way to manage stress is exercise and healthy lifestyle, getting enough rest and sleep.

– Can you discuss the importance of medication adherence for patients with heart conditions and how it can help prevent heart attacks?

– Medication compliance is one of the most important determinant in successfully managing cardiovascular disease, coronary artery disease, and heart attacks. It has a role in prevention of heart attacks as well as management of the patient after heart attacks, after coronary artery stents as well as after bypass surgery. This is called secondary prevention when doctors try to prevent 2nd heart attack was 2nd cardiac event.

– What advice do you have for people who have experienced a heart attack and want to improve their heart health moving forward?

– For secondary prevention (for people who already had a heart attack) it is very important to continue lifestyle modifications, including diet and exercise as well as be compliant with medications which were prescribed by physicians. Medications which are prescribed usually include statins to keep cholesterol very low, dual antiplatelet therapy with aspirin and Plavix/Brilinta, Ace inhibitors to prevent remodeling of the heart after myocardial infarction, beta-blockers for arrhythmia prevention, sometimes implantation of defibrillators to prevent sudden cardiac death, medications to manage heart failure in addition to medications to manage diabetes, hypertension and obesity.

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