Do you have questions about your heart health? Not sure if you should see a cardiologist? The heart specialists at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health have answers! See below for resources and frequently asked questions about your heart.
Virginia Mason Franciscan Health is dedicated to your heart health. From helping you prevent conditions before they start to offering you support and education after your treatment, we will be with you every step of the way to living a healthy life.
An estimated 80 percent of cardiac and stroke events can be prevented through action and education. You’re never too old-or too young-to take steps toward a healthier heart.
Your primary care doctor can help you reduce your risk of heart disease and monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol. But how do you know when it’s time to seek the help of a heart specialist?
If your provider suspects any serious conditions, or if lifestyle changes fail to reduce your risks of heart disease, you may be referred to a heart specialist. A specialist will suggest the tests you need to recommend management or prevention techniques. Here are some of the reasons you, or your provider, may decide it’s time to see a specialist:
If one, or more, of your immediate family members has been diagnosed with heart disease, high cholesterol or high blood pressure, you’re considered to have a family history of heart disease. If you have a family history and any symptoms of heart disease, you may be at increased risk. A heart specialist can help you evaluate your risks, recommend healthy habits to prevent heart disease, or manage existing conditions with medication or other treatment plans.
This can feel like an intense squeezing, pressure or pain in the chest. The pain may spread into the shoulders, neck, arms or jaw. You should be especially cautious if your chest pain becomes more intense, isn’t relieved by rest, or is combined with one of these additional symptoms:
If you think you’re experiencing a heart attack, heart failure or other cardiac event, call 911.
Some conditions have strong links to heart disease and may need the attention of a heart specialist to assess and help manage, including:
Find a variety of resources ranging from heart-friendly recipes to health tracking tools and more.
Health care experts answer all your heart care questions and help you learn about proper nutrition, medication use and exercise.
These screenings help catch vascular conditions before they become a problem.
Watch firsthand stories from our patients.
High sugar and fat content in restaurant food can be bad for your heart, so be cautious with your choices. Avoid deep-fried foods, cream-based soups, white sauces, gravies and high-fat meats. Instead, look for fish options; choose broiled, grilled, steamed or baked items prepared with little or no added oils; and request steamed veggies and whole-grain starches. Another great calorie-saving alternative is to share your entree with a friend or have half your meal boxed up for another day.
Many restaurants have nutrition facts available online or on the menu to help you make smarter choices. Do some research before going out, and select restaurants that offer healthy menu options.
Prevent overeating and promote a balanced diet by practicing portion control.
Some types of fat are better for your heart health than others:
Snacks can help keep your metabolism revved up between meals and keep your appetite in control. Avoid packaged foods high in salt and sugar; instead, choose fresh, whole foods. Smart options include:
Exercise can improve your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, help manage stress, promote weight loss, and give you more energy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity, aerobic activity. Adults also should do muscle-strengthening activities that are moderate- or high-intensity and involve major muscle groups on two or more days a week.
Ultimately, some exercise is better than none. Set an attainable goal—even 10 minutes of exercise—and reach for that. You can increase your time the stronger and more used to physical activity you get. Walking, cycling, swimming, tennis, strength training and yoga are options that can improve your heart health.
If you need help planning an exercise program, your doctor can let you know which exercises are safe in your condition, and then set an appropriate and realistic goal for starting a new fitness program.
From office visits to complex surgery, our cardiologists offer the region’s most trusted heart and vascular care.