American Heart Month: Minimizing Cardiac Complications for a Healthier Life

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By Mia Brabham

Sponsored by Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center

February is American Heart Month, which brings education and awareness to heart health. During the month of love and beyond, it’s important to examine how we take care of our hearts as part of our self-care routines.

The doctors at Sentara Heart & Vascular Center at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center work to ensure their patients are as healthy as possible. Dr. Seyi Bolorunduro, known as “Dr. Bolo” to his patients, is an Interventional Cardiologist with Sentara and NOVA Cardiovascular Care. He’s passionate about helping the people of Prince William County be their happiest and healthiest. Here are steps you and your loved ones can take to prevent cardiac complications.

What are Cardiac Complications

“There are many cardiovascular conditions that could present as emergencies,” Dr. Bolo says. The most common is an acute myocardial infarction, or a heart attack. There can also be complications such as cardiac arrest, heart failure, stroke, cardiogenic shock, and aortic dissection.

“[Cardiac complications] are usually the end point of multiple problems people have. Many people have hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol… or they have a strong family history of heart disease,” Dr. Bolo continues.

All of these things could come together or affect you individually. High blood pressure – if it’s uncontrolled – could increase your risk of having a heart attack. It could also increase your risk of having congestive heart failure, cardiac arrest, aortic dissection, or a stroke. Diabetes, high cholesterol, and obesity can have similar effects as high blood pressure. Dr. Bolo tells us that “all of these independently increase your risk of having these complications. So what can we do to prevent these complications?”

How to Prevent Cardiac Complications

The best way you can love yourself is to take care of yourself and your heart. There are numerous ways to prevent cardiac complications and prevent heart disease.

“This first thing to do is to know your family history. Then, see a primary doctor and get screened for these conditions and work actively to control all of the conditions you may have,” Dr. Bolo said. “That includes eating healthy, trying to reduce salt intake, trying to exercise regularly, trying to have a good sleep pattern, and maintaining an ideal body weight.”

When you visit the doctor, it’s important to do a routine screening for your cholesterol and blood pressure to monitor these values so they don’t get out of hand. “All that together minimizes the risk of having cardiac complications,” Dr. Bolo said.

When to See a Doctor for Cardiac Complications

“I believe that everyone needs to have a regular primary care doctor, irrespective of your age,” Dr. Bolo says. He goes on to discuss how as kids we may have pediatricians, but as we get older, we need to take our health into our own hands.

“Irrespective of if you have medical conditions, you should see a doctor at least once a year. You should get routine vaccinations and routine screenings,” Dr. Bolo goes on. “When you do those routine follow-ups visits with your primary doctor, they will do all those screenings and we’ll be able to find out if you have any of those risk factors that could lead to cardiac complications long-term.”

For example, if you go to your primary care doctor and find out that you’re prediabetic, you can make adjustments to your lifestyle before you become diabetic and potentially increase your risk of cardiac complications. If your blood pressure is in the prehypertensive range, you can find out before it gets to the point of requiring medications.

“When do we need to see a doctor? Everyone should see a doctor once a year. Everyone should have a primary care doctor and get routine panel screenings.”

Why Heart Health is Important

According to the National Heart, Lung, and BIood Institute, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Heart health is also extremely important in this time because people with poor cardiovascular health are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Dr. Bolo tells us that minority populations — especially African American populations — should get routine screenings and appropriate treatment. He has seen patients who come to the hospital as young as 30 years old who already have congestive heart failure

“I’m very passionate about trying to ensure that the community understands the importance of all the risk factors we have and work actively towards reducing them,” Dr. Bolo says. “We, as a community, need to do a lot more to take care of our health. Sometimes you just need to speak to someone who understands where you’re coming from, and together we can be partners towards making you live healthier and better.”

Dr. Bolo views himself as more than a doctor. “I see my job as a cardiologist not just as a doctor, but almost like a coach. Together we discuss your goals and work towards success. That teamwork is very important.”

To learn more about Sentara Heart & Vascular Center, visit sentara.com/heart or call 703-523-1980.

About Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center

Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center is a 183-bed, not-for-profit community hospital serving Prince William County and its surrounding communities. Our medical center combines the resources of a major health system with the compassionate, personalized care of a community hospital. SNVMC offers quiet, private rooms and high-quality care focused on safety and patient satisfaction. We offer a wide range of medical specialties, a highly qualified medical and clinical staff, and state-of-the-art technology. Clinical services include advanced imaging, cancer services, diabetes management, emergency care, heart and vascular care, lab services, neurosurgery, primary care, orthopedics, urology, weight loss surgery, women’s services and more. Visit iwantsentaramedicalgroup.com to find a provider today.

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