Go Red Heart Health Champion Q&A
During my residency and fellowship I did research on depression after heart attack and in patients with heart failure. Patients who are depressed don’t do as well, they’re not as compliant with medications or rehab. It makes a big difference if I talk to my patients about it. They are often relieved that I brought it up, to know it’s a normal reaction to what they are going through.
Question: What advice do you give people to stay heart healthy?
Don’t sit in front of the TV, find something you like to do and do it. It can be walking, dancing, biking, gardening, whatever… you just need to be up and moving. And find someone to do it with you. That makes a big difference and keeps you motivated.
Jeanine Romanelli, MD
Cardiologist, Lankenau Medical Center
Spokesperson , Go Red for Women
Question: Why does hypertension affect African American women more?
We’re not completely sure why, but we believe there is likely both genetic and environmental components that play a role. We do know that African American women develop high blood pressure earlier in life and it’s more difficult to control. They also have a greater degree of complications related to high blood pressure including heart attack and stroke. By working with these patients earlier in life, we hope to get their blood pressure under control and avoid disastrous complications down the road.
Question: What’s the most important thing a person can do to protect their heart?
Eat a healthy diet, control your food portions, do not smoke, and exercise regularly. Even if it’s a 20 to 30 minute walk five times a week, it’s beneficial. The heart is a muscle and it needs exercise.
Vincent Figueredo, MD
Associate Chair, Cardiology Division, Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia
President, Board of Directors of the Southeastern PA Chapter of the
American Heart Association
Question: Preventing problems before they start is a big part of your job, right?
Yes, one of our goals is to keep people out of the hospital. I work closely with patients who are at risk of being admitted to the hospital, talking with them several times a week if need be to help them identify risk factors that may land them in the hospital. ‘Continuity of care’ is a big buzz phrase today – making sure that patients transition successfully from the hospital to home and making sure they have what they need to stay healthy.
Question: You say you try to lead by example.
I do. Since I spend my days telling patients what to do, I try to practice what I preach – that includes eating right and exercising regularly. When I suggest something to a patient, I can honestly say I’ve done it myself.
Natalie Pierson, RN, BSN
Lead Heart Failure Nurse Coordinator, Advanced Heart Failure and Heart
Transplant Program, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
Chairperson, Open Your Heart Committee
Click here to learn more about Go Red for Women and the fight against heart disease and stroke.