Dr. Mike Odle knows the statistics are dire. Heart disease will affect half of the adults in the U.S. It’s the No. 1 killer of Americans. But Odle also knows that, in most cases, healthy habits can prevent heart disease.
“We want to focus on those patients who are at risk,” said Odle, the chief of cardiology at Conway Medical Center and physician with CMC Cardiology.
To improve heart health, Odle emphasizes the seven “pillars of primary prevention.” Those are: eating heart-healthy, moving more, maintaining a healthy weight, monitoring blood pressure, managing cholesterol, controlling diabetes, and avoiding tobacco.
Implement heart healthy habits
Perhaps what’s most critical to heart health, however, is finding good habits that are sustainable. That means a patient needs to find a diet and exercise routine that can become a part of everyday life, not simply a fad to lose weight or get in better shape. The goals must be long-term to be effective.
Exercise your heart
“People ask me that a lot. … ‘What’s the best exercise?’” Odle said. “My answer is always the same. It’s whatever you like doing and can stick with, meaning if you like to take your significant other out and go for a walk 30 minutes a day, that’s the best exercise for you. If I tell you that you have to jog on the treadmill for 30 minutes a day, you’re probably going to do that about three times, the majority of folks, and they’re going to stop. It’s been proven that whatever exercise people enjoy the most is what’s sustainable. To me, the sustainability of the exercise program is much more important than the type of exercise.”
How to eat for heart health
As for diet, Odle recommends the Mediterranean diet, which focuses on vegetables, seafood, legumes, and olive oil while minimizing red meat, refined grains, and fried foods. Equally beneficial, he said, is the DASH diet, which focuses on minimizing sodium. It’s designed to prevent high blood pressure and is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
“I tell the patient, just like exercise, pick which one of these that you think you can sustain,” he said. “Sustainability is the key. The crash diet that you lose 30 pounds with, that’s good, but I typically find that when I see you back six months from now, you’ve gained that 30 back plus 10.”
Seek the right heart care
Along with diet and exercise, a patient’s heart health depends on tracking key numbers such as blood pressure and cholesterol. And having the guidance of a primary care provider is key. Odle said a provider can refer a patient to a cardiologist if needed, and there are additional services that CMC Cardiology can provide.
For example, CMC recently installed a new CT scanner that allows medical staff to help patients who haven’t been diagnosed with coronary heart disease or arterial heart disease. The scans allow doctors to find calcium and plaque that hasn’t made itself obvious yet and treatment can begin sooner. The scans are ideal for people aged 40-70 with a family history of heart disease or who have other risk factors such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
Again, prevention is what’s most important
“We can diagnose them before it’s clinically obvious and we can start therapies to reduce their risk of having a heart attack and stroke,” Odle said. “We want to do everything we can to not miss that opportunity to start treating those folks earlier because we know that, much like with cancer, early treatment saves lives.”
Advanced medical technology provides the tools our team needs to make an accurate and timely diagnosis. Our board-certified experts at CMC Cardiology will be in your corner, working to ensure your best cardiac health. See why our affiliation with Duke Health enables us to offer the highest level of cardiac care throughout the Horry County region.