By: Juan Pablo Zambrano, M.D., FACC, FSCAI

You may have heard some of the statistics about how many people are affected by heart disease in the United States and how many die from it every year. The statistics are real, and they are growing.

  • Annually, some 600,000 people die of heart disease, and it doesn’t spare many ethnicities. It’s the leading cause of death for both men and women who are African Americans, Caucasians and Hispanics. It’s second only to cancer deaths for Asians in the United States, American Indians or Alaska natives.
  • Every year about 935,000 Americans have a heart attack, and approximately two-thirds of those are having their first one.

Know The Signs So You Can Take Action
Do not talk yourself out of paying attention to these warning signs and symptoms. It’s better to act on a “false alarm” than to never get another chance.

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Upper body pain/discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw or upper stomach
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea, lightheadedness or cold sweats

Are You At Risk?
Key risk factors for heart disease are high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol and smoking. Almost half of Americans (49 percent) have at least one of these risk factors. Several other medical conditions and lifestyle choices can add to your risk. These include overweight/obesity, diabetes, poor diet, physical inactivity and excessive use of alcohol.

Be Proactive: Protect Your Heart
Lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol will reduce your risk of dying of heart disease. Additionally, you can incorporate these tips into your lifestyle to protect your heart:

  • Follow your doctor’s instructions and stay on your medications.
  • Eat a healthy diet that is low in salt, rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, and low in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol.
  • Take a brisk 10-minute walk, three times a day, five days a week.
  • Do not smoke. If you still smoke, quit as soon as possible. Jackson Health System offers a free, six-week program at various locations throughout Miami-Dade County. You can call 305-585-5319 or go to click here.

For more heart health articles during our Heart Month series, click here.

To read our Hearts of Jackson patient stories, click here.

Dr. Juan Pablo Zambrano is the director of cardiovascular medicine at Jackson South Community Hospital and is board-certified in cardiology, interventional cardiology, Vascular Medicine and nuclear cardiology. He is particularly interested in cardiac and vascular interventions, arterial and venous disease of the legs to improve circulation using minimally-invasive cardiac and vascular procedures.
Before joining Jackson South, Dr. Zambrano was Cardiovascular Interventionalist at University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and trained several generations of cardiovascular specialists in coronary and vascular procedures. He was also part of the UM team for stem cell research in cardiovascular regeneration.

Dr. Juan Pablo Zambrano