Dr. Lewis tells his patients that one or more lifestyle changes can dramatically reduce their risk of developing heart disease.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital cardiologist Eldrin F. Lewis, MD, MPH, specializes in evaluating patients with heart failure. His goal, however, is to prevent patients from ever needing his expertise.
Knowing that high blood pressure (hypertension) is the biggest risk factor for heart failure, Dr. Lewis tells his patients that they’ll dramatically reduce their risk of developing heart disease if they follow a few simple hypertension-reducing guidelines and keep an eye on their blood pressure. Genetics can indeed play a role in developing high blood pressure, but obesity, inactivity, tobacco and alcohol use, stress, and salt intake are all hypertension risk factors that you can control.
“Eliminate excuses from your vocabulary,” says Dr. Lewis. As a physician with a family history of high blood pressure, that’s what he has tried to do.
Left untreated, high blood pressure can cause heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure, or heart failure. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of their blood pressure levels. Since mild to moderate hypertension usually doesn’t come with any symptoms, you won’t know whether you have it unless you get your blood pressure checked.
There’s no excuse for not knowing your blood pressure, says Dr. Lewis. Everyone should have their blood pressure checked at least once a year, and thanks to the Affordable Care Act, you now can get your yearly physical for free. People at risk or who have already been diagnosed with hypertension, however, should check their blood pressure more frequently. This can be done at your doctor’s office or on your own.
Read More »