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Controlling Your Risk Factors for Heart Disease

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. The CDC also states that about 630,000 Americans die from heart disease each year. Dr. Scott Fowler of Utica Park Clinic in Bixby shares the heart disease risk factors you can control and how prevention is key against developing heart disease.

Your smoking status, weight, medication compliance, exercise and activity level, alcohol intake and diet are all factors you control. “I’ve got a lot of patients that don’t realize alcohol is bad for your heart – especially in excess. Alcohol in a small amount, like a glass of red wine every few days is fine, but if you think having two or three cocktails a night is okay, you’ll end up with congestive heart failure,” Dr. Fowler shares.

The American Heart Association recommends that you get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. This can include anything from gardening or light jogging to moderate cycling. If you’re not going for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, the American Heart Association recommends 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week. This includes running, swimming laps or high-intensity cycling. You could also create a combination of both moderate-intensity aerobic activity and vigorous aerobic activity spread throughout your week. Dr. Fowler notes, “If you’re just walking for 10 or 15 minutes a day, you’re burning calories, but for your heart health, you need to get your heart rate and your breathing up to really exercise that muscle.” 

Dr. Fowler recommends finding calories that you can cut out, like sugary sodas or drinks. He explains, “As part of our culture, we have buffets which are all-you-can-eat for a set price. It’s not something you see in other countries. Everyone has easy calories that they can get rid of. If you’re drinking a soda every day, that’s 150 calories per can and if you’re drinking something from a fountain, the calories skyrocket. Portion control is very important. Cut out calories that you’redrinking. If you switch your whole milk to 2% or 1%, you can cut out some calories.”

“Prevention is huge. Your doctor can sit down with you and tell you what your risk factors are, how they can be controlled, what needs medicine and what doesn’t. The sooner you get checked out and get that started, the better off you are,” Dr. Fowler notes. He adds, “It’s very difficult when someone comes in and they’re 70 years old and they’ve got blood pressure that’s through the roof, cholesterol through the roof and they’ve got glucose that’s high. Who knows how much damage has already been done because who knows when it started? What we want to see is someone who is 40 and they come in when their blood pressure is just barely elevated and we can get it under control and protect their heart during that phase. That’s where your yearly physicals and follow-ups become huge.” Dr. Fowler recommends that if you’re having chest discomfort or any trouble breathing and its worse with activity, make an appointment with your primary care provider.

If you are looking for a family medicine provider, please call 918-574-0150 to make an appointment with Dr. Fowler at Utica Park Clinic’s newest location in Bixby.