Dr. Eugene Chung talked to community members about heart health April 1 at the Sherman House.
The Ohio Heart and Vascular Center and The Christ Hospital Lindner Center for Research and Education, Cincinnati, heart failure director, who also sees patients at the Margaret Mary Outpatient Center, told attendees at the Margaret Mary Health-sponsored event, “Depending on your age, heart failure has become a bigger and bigger problem.
“Americans are living longer. If you had a heart attack in 1950, chances are you didn’t survive, but now you do. There are more heart failure cases now, but we are doing better and better at helping people.”
He stressed that early intervention is important. “You want to treat someone before they feel bad .... The effort and cost to take care of patients is less when they’re asymptomatic (without symptoms) and rises when they become symptomatic.”
The physician said heart failure patients should know their ejection fraction, “the percent of blood in the left ventricle that gets squeezed out with each beat. Normally, it’s about 50-60 percent. If you have a heart attack, it goes down to 40 percent or less.” To measure it, “an echocardiogram is the most common, most available and least expensive” option.
It is also important for patients to know if they are taking ACE inhibitors or beta blockers, which reduce high blood pressure, he noted.
In addition, “Baby aspirin is a very important drug when men and women get to be a certain age. If you’ve had a heart attack or stroke, it’s very important. Heart failure is a separate disease .... (for it alone), aspirin is not necessary.”
Chung pointed out, “Remember, overtesting is not a good thing. It leads to overtreatment and leads to overmedication.”
Regarding blood pressure, he said the systolic number, the top number, should be about 135 or below. “If you have diabetes or heart disease .... (and) for those ages 75 or 80 and up, 150 or 155 is reasonable. However, I’d rather have someone be at 160 as opposed to 100 and be dizzy.