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October 08, 2004

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Publication Date: Friday, October 08, 2004

Help from the heart doc Help from the heart doc (October 08, 2004)

By Diana Reynolds Roome

Dr. Jane Lombard, a cardiologist at the Camino Medical Group, offers community education programs to raise awareness about preventing heart disease, She also gives individual medical examinations where she checks:

* Blood pressure. It should be under 120/80. "Hypertension is the silent killer, though it's more of a risk factor for stroke than for heart attack."

* Heartbeat. "Atrial fibrillation is a fast, irregular heartbeat, [which feels as if it's] pounding or skipping, and often shortness of breath. Caffeine is a factor -- some people drink seven or eight sodas or coffees a day."

* Carotid artery. "We listen for murmurs, check the rhythm through pulses on the wrist and ankle. This can tell us about the presence of advanced atherosclerosis (arterial plaque)."

* Hormone replacement therapy (HRT). There are risks and advantages. "It's a very personal decision. The risks and benefits should be discussed. Two studies show HRT doesn't help cardiovascular disease."

* Cholesterol levels (via blood test). Total should be under 200 mg/dL, with LDL below 130. "We're getting less fit, more fat. Keep to a diet low in animal fats, high in fish, fruits and vegetables. Resist that second scoop of ice cream, even if it costs only 50 cents more."

Dr. Lombard also suggests finding ways to reduce stress, lose weight, give up smoking and exercise regularly: "Thirty minutes five days a week gives you the most bang for your buck -- this much can decrease the risk of a cardiac event by 50 percent. The insurance industry should give rebates for every hour we exercise. Meanwhile, maybe it's a good thing the price of gas is up!"

(This list is not intended to offer complete information about reducing cardiac risk. Visit the American Heart Association's Web site at for more details.)

Want to learn more?

Attend Heart Health -- Naturally Yours, a free presentation by Camino Medical Group physicians on ways to promote heart health. Monday, Nov. 15, 6-8 p.m., Urgent Care Center Conference Rooms 1 & 2, 201 Old San Francisco Road, Sunnyvale Reservations required. Call (408) 523-3222.

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