Doctors at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center want you to show your heart a little love.
“Once somebody shows up in the hospital here to see us and they need a bypass or have Atrial fibrillation, we’re already playing catch-up,” said Dr. Everett, a cardiac electrophysiologist at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center.
They are launching a new convergent procedure at the hospital to help treat Atrial fibrillation – an irregular heartbeat – which can worsen symptoms for anyone with heart disease.
“It’s a very difficult disease to control,” said Dr. Everett.
The convergent procedure can help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in patients with heart disease. The two-step process uses radio frequency to normalize the heart rate and clipping the atrial appendage to reduce the risk of a blood clot.
However, doctors said prevention should be a priority: by living a healthy lifestyle and getting regular check-ups from the doctor.
“We know that the major risk factors for heart disease is obesity, hypertension, diabetes,” said Dr. Savas Mavridis, the chief cardiac surgeon at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center.
“Some people have heart disease and they don’t even know it. That’s why it’s called the ‘silent killer’,” said Trina Thompson, the executive director of the 1889 Jefferson Center for Population Health.
The Center for Population Health has spent the past year researching health issues facing Cambria and Somerset Counties. The results? Diabetes, obesity and smoking: higher than the national average.
Eighteen percent of Cambria County residents smoke, while the national rate is 15.1 percent, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“As we smoke, have obesity and don’t exercise, those things really add exponentially to the risk of heart disease,” Thompson said.
Doctors said preventative care and reducing controllable risk factors are key.
“If you haven’t had a physical in over a year, visit your doctor. Make sure you follow up with your appointments,” said Dr. Mavridis.
“Diet, weight management and exercise: they’re extremely important,” said Dr. Everett.