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Heart Expert Discusses Advancements In Treating Heart Disease, How To Lower Risks

(February 04, 2019) Dr. Andrew Kates returned to "St. Louis on the Air" Monday to help explain various matters of the heart.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

February is Heart Health Month, and heart expert Dr. Andrew Kates, professor of medicine and cardiologist with the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Heart & Vascular Center, returned to St. Louis on the Air Monday to help explain various matters of the heart.

Host Don Marsh talked with Kates about new developments in heart-health research and answered listener questions about the organ. Heart disease is the largest killer of American men and women, outpacing all types of cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung disease as a cause of death in the United States.

Some not-so-pleasant facts:

  • Nearly one out of three deaths annually result from cardiovascular disease.
  • 40 percent of all adults in the U.S. have some form of cardiovascular disease.
  • Women are particularly affected by cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease.

But Kates added that there have been some advancements made in preventing and treating the attacks on the heart.
“There's so much that's out there now – from a prevention standpoint, to how we treat valvular heart disease, to atrial fibrillation, to the role of artificial intelligence and how we diagnose and manage heart disease,” he said.

There are some risk factors no one can prevent such as age, gender and family history. However, there are five risks that people can control:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Physical inactivity
  • Alcohol consumption

Patients who maintain an active lifestyle can reduce their risk by about 30 percent by working out five days a week for 30 minutes a day. Kates added that there is new information regarding taking aspirin to prevent heart disease.
“There were actually a series of trials that came out around November [or] December of last year that looked at the role of aspirin for primary prevention,” he said, explaining that primary prevention is treating individuals who may be at risk for heart disease, but have not yet had a heart attack or not yet had a stroke.

“Those patients were treated with aspirin or a placebo over the course of several years. And in each of those trials, there was actually no benefit to taking an aspirin a day versus taking placebo,” Kates added. “And so with that, I would encourage people to speak with their physician or their health-care professional before they stop it if they're on aspirin.”

Other ways to keep the heart healthy:

  • Maintain a proper diet and exercise.
  • Manage weight.
  • Manage blood pressure and check blood pressure often at home.
  • Reduce blood sugar.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol intake.
  • Manage stress levels at work and at home.

Kates discussed advancements in treatment guidelines for hypertension, cholesterol and more; he also delved into diet and lifestyle changes as well as other topics relating to heart health. Listen to the full conversation here:

To learn how to reduce your risk of heart disease, visit barnesjewish.org/heart or call (855)-45-HEART.

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Alex HeuerEvie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org

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Lara is the Engagement Editor at St. Louis Public Radio.
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