by Shelby Grata, BSN, RN, CHC
At some point in our lives we’ve more than likely felt a broken heart from a loss or disappointment. Heart disease is a “broken” or injured heart that can possibly be prevented if we have more information.
Our hearts are performing for us daily; whether we know it or not. This magnificent organ provides blood supply and oxygen to all parts of our bodies. The healthy heart silently does its job throughout the lifetime only bringing attention when something is wrong. Knowing the risk factors for heart disease will help us protect this beating jewel.
There are some risk factors that can be changed or lessened, such as:
- Overweight or Obesity
- High cholesterol
There are also things that cannot be changed:
- Family history
- Birth gender
Oftentimes, we are afraid or feel like we’re wasting our care provider’s time if we bring up our fears or concerns about things during an exam. If symptoms are minimized or ignored, trouble can be brewing.
So, what can we do to have a meaningful conversation during a medical visit?
Have a list ready: Writing things down will help prompt our minds not to forget what is important. Any symptoms such as: pain between the shoulder blades, chest pressure, tightness, squeezing or discomfort, palpitations or skipped beats of the heart, jaw/neck/teeth pain; indigestion/nausea/gas-type pain, sweating, fatigue, shortness of breath; or, in women, feeling like your bra is too tight.
Technology: Many providers and facilities now have electronic communication through portals and e-mails. If there is more you want to ask, this is a great place to get it done.
Second Opinion: It’s okay to research and seek other resources. If it upsets your provider, then that may be a red flag that it’s time for a new wellness team. Wellness is achieved through a team of healthcare providers.
Education: Attend wellness visits and community outreach centers or events to learn what’s available to help navigate the healthcare system. Diseases and medication are overwhelming. Utilizing a health coach or chronic care manager is a great way to begin the process of understanding health and wellness.
Communicate: Don’t wait for a follow-up that’s already scheduled “down the road,” to discuss concerns. Pick up the phone and schedule a visit sooner rather than later. If you are in distress with the above symptoms, don’t wait to call 911. The saying: “It’s better to be safe than sorry!” are words to live by when it comes to the heart.
Shelby Grata, BSN, RN, CHC is a Registered Nurse with experience in the hospital, home health, cardiology clinic, and cardiac rehabilitation settings. She currently works as a Certified Health Coach at Pinehurst Medical Clinic. For questions regarding Annual Wellness Visits, please call (910)235-3347.