Local cardiologist promotes heart health education

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — February is American Heart Month, and a local cardiologist wants residents to be aware of heart health, as well as preventative steps to take to stay healthy.

“Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States and around the world,” said Dr. Samir Patel, interventional cardiologist at the Cardiovascular Institute of Northwest Florida.

He also said it was important to know the risk factors and symptoms of heart problems.

Some of these risk factors include smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, all of which can be controlled.

“We see equal numbers of women and men with heart attacks, but often men present earlier with chest pain due to their typical symptoms, Dr. Patel said.

He said women can face atypical symptoms of heart attacks, including shortness of breath and fatigue.

Janice Seimer knows the symptoms all too well. She suffered a heart attack in 2001.

“[The doctors] told me if I didn’t lose weight they said if my heart was broken I could be fixed,” she said. “But I was suffocating my own heart with obesity.”

Seimer said the morning of the heart attack she felt fine. But later that day she felt pressure in her chest and started sweating profusely.

She explained that she wished she could talk to herself younger before the first heart attack.

“Start doing things that you know could help you,” Seimer said. “Educate yourself, whether it’s eating well, walking, exercising.”

She also has advice for anyone who thinks they’re having a heart attack:

“Go to the emergency room. When you feel [symptoms], and you really know, come on. Do not wait. It can save your life.”

Friday, February 4 is National Wear Red Day. Health professionals encourage you to wear red to raise awareness of heart disease, especially among women.

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