February 15, 2022

Why Managing All Chronic Conditions is Critical to Your Heart

Other Chronic Disease Management Directly Impacts Your Heart Health

Did you know all of the chronic health conditions you manage are related to your heart?

“Heart disease is a broad term, and it isn’t just having a heart attack,” said Dr. Chris Stark, chief clinical officer at Landmark Health.  “The heart is a pump—anything that impacts the blood vessels also affects the function of the heart.”

Dr. Christopher Stark
Dr. Christopher Stark – Chief Clinical Officer at Landmark Health

A chronic condition like high cholesterol clogs and hardens the arteries, slowly, over many years. Another chronic condition, like diabetes, can injure blood vessels anywhere in the body and damage the heart. It can also lead to a debilitating and life-altering stroke.

 Managing Your Known Chronic Conditions Helps Your Heart Stay Strong. 

  • OBESITY: Research clearly shows obesity, or increased body fat, not only increases your risk for heart disease but directly contributes to heart disease. Even a small weight loss can go a long way to lowering your heart health risk.
  • DIABETES: The longer a person has diabetes, the higher their chances of developing heart disease. High blood glucose from diabetes damages blood vessels and the nerves that control the heart, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Carefully managing your diabetes is essential to heart health.
  • HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE: Almost half of the adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure. Blood pressure at or above 140/90 (or 130/80 if you have diabetes or chronic kidney disease) affects your heart health. Left uncontrolled, high blood pressure can damage blood vessels and cause serious health events. The first step in keeping your blood pressure under control is knowing your reading. Check it regularly and take medications as prescribed by your doctor.
  • CHOLESTEROL LEVELS: High levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and low levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol are tied to heart disease. Healthy cholesterol management is like maintaining the pipes in your house. “If you throw bacon grease down the drain, it stops it up,” says Dr. Stark. “Just like bacon grease clogs a pipe, cholesterol clogs your arteries. You can try and clean out the pipes and call the plumber—a cardiologist—to try and fix your emergency, but an ounce of prevention saves a pound of cure.” Cholesterol coats the walls of your arteries and makes the passageway for blood thinner and thinner over time. As the walls start to clog, they thicken and harden. It increases blood pressure, strains the heart, and makes it hard to move blood around your entire body. In order to manage high cholesterol, work closely with your Landmark team and take your prescribed medications.
  • CHRONIC KIDNEY DISEASE: People with chronic kidney disease often live with low-grade inflammation, making them more vulnerable to heart disease. Protect your heart and kidneys by monitoring your kidney disease closely with your Landmark team.
  • CHRONIC OBSTRUCTIVE PULMONARY DISEASE (COPD) and EMPHZEMA: often caused by smoking, put you in a high-risk group for developing heart disease. “The heart pumps blood to and from the lungs to pick up oxygen. When the lungs are injured with COPD, it is difficult to put oxygen in the blood,” explains Dr. Stark. “To make sure enough oxygen gets around the body, the heart has to pump twice as much blood, straining the heart while also depriving it of oxygen.” It’s important to keep in regular conversations with your doctor to manage your COPD.
  • RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS: causes inflammation and increases your chances of hardened and blocked arteries and premature heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Work with your Landmark team to carefully manage your RA symptoms and treatment plan.
  • IMMUNODEFICIENCY DISORDERS: leave you vulnerable in many ways, including viruses that can attack the heart.  COVID-19 is only the latest of many viruses that can cause swelling and damage to your heart.
  • LUPUS: Living with lupus increases your risk for heart and blood disease and inflammation of the heart according to the Lupus Foundation of America.
  • Other Lifestyle Factors for Heart Disease Include:
    • Smoking
    • Family history of heart disease
    • Age: over 45 for men, and post-menopausal for women
    • Stress, such as an emotionally upsetting event, especially involving anger
    • Chronic loneliness
    • Heavy alcohol drinking

Symptoms of Heart Disease

The symptoms of heart disease range from no symptoms at all to signs of fluid overload such as coughing, shortness of breath, and leg swelling.

 

Acute Heart Attack Symptoms Include:

  • Chest pain, shortness of breath, and fatigue
  • Pressure in the chest, with or without pain, or discomfort in one or both arms, the jaw, back, stomach, or neck
  • Nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, feeling faint, or cold sweats.

Your Landmark Team is Here 

If you would like to take steps to help prevent heart disease, talk to your care team. Take all your prescribed medications and keep your appointments with your doctors and specialists. We are always open to your questions. Our goal is to help you live the life you deserve by managing your conditions in the best way possible.