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American Heart Month

There’s no better time to learn about heart health than during the month of love, it’s American Heart Month! Heart Disease is known to be the No. 1 cause of death in America. However, in most cases, heart disease can be prevented by living a healthy lifestyle! Cardiologists, Dr. Padmini Varadarajan and Dr. Anna Sarcon step in with some insight on the different faces of heart disease and what you can do to prevent it! 

Padmini Varadarajan, MD, FACC

Heart Disease in Women

Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Echocardiography, and Adult Congenital Heart Diseases and Cardiac Computed Tomography, Dr. Padmini Varadarajan has seen the ins and outs of heart disease in patients of all ages, genders, and ethnicities. However, Dr. Varadarajan shares that “cardiovascular disease is especially prevalent amongst women, causing 1 in every 3 female deaths per year.” 

Women have smaller arteries than men making them more susceptible to heart conditions. Additionally, despite being more susceptible, the symptoms of heart disease seem to differ amongst women and men. Dr. Varadarajan notes that “women present with atypical symptoms. For example, they may not have chest pain like pressure in the chest but instead only have a shortness of breath.” Other symptoms of heart disease  women may experience include indigestion, anxiety-like symptoms, back pain, or unusual fatigue.

As many of these symptoms trickle away from the obvious signs of heart disease, it becomes difficult for women to catch the problem early on. With this, Dr. Varadarajan emphasizes that “[it] is important for both patients and physicians to recognize these atypical symptoms of coronary artery disease, so that early diagnosis is made, and appropriate management is given.” 

Heart Health and Prevention

Specializing in Electrophysiology, Cardiology and Internal Medicine, Dr. Anna Sarcon adds on to the spirit of American Heart Month with some preventative tips that all people at risk for heart disease should consider: 

  1. Try to cut out caffeine and alcohol – “One glass of wine here and there is ok but try to avoid alcohol, caffeine and energy drinks as much as possible.” 
  2. Exercise is Key – “It has been shown that people who exercise, do yoga or even own pets that they have to walk and take care of have a lower blood pressure and are at lower risk for heart disease.” 
  3. Take time to relax and destress – “Both physical and mental stress can have an effect on heart disease” 
Anna Sarcon, MD, FACC

“Ultimately, it is up to a person’s willingness to change and improve their life,” Dr. Sarcon says. The biggest risk factors for heart disease include diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking and excessive alcohol intake. Approximately 40% of the risk for heart diseases is due to genetic factors, leaving the other 60% due to environmental and lifestyle choices. 

Take the time this month to think about your heart health and how you can make better choices to prevent heart disease. The quickest way to see if your heart is working properly is to check your blood pressure. If you are experiencing consistent high blood pressure, constituted by a systolic pressure >120 and diastolic pressure >80, you may want to contact your primary care physician for further testing. To schedule an in-person or virtual appointment with a UCR Health physician, click here or give us a call at 1-844-827-8000.

About UCR Health

UCR Health is comprised of a team of physicians, specialists and healthcare professionals dedicated to improving people’s health. With five medical offices located throughout Inland Empire and Coachella Valley, UCR Health is growing to meet the healthcare needs of the region, bringing innovative, culturally sensitive medical care to the community. Established alongside the School of Medicine at the University of California, Riverside, UCR Health’s patient-centered primary care and specialty services deliver university-based healthcare excellence and innovation to all communities.

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