Heart and Vascular

Heart Month

Heart Month is a great time to better understand your own cardiovascular health risks and steps you can take to stay active and healthy.  Read on to learn more about ways to prevent and detect cardiovascular problems as well as understanding chronic conditions and recognizing cardiovascular emergencies.

Know Your Numbers

Learning about your individual cardiovascular risks is an important step in both preventing and identifying heart disease. 

Cardiologist Dr. Alexandra Ward, MD discussed the controllable risk factors for heart disease and the importance of knowing your numbers.

Has it been more than a year since you had your annual wellness visit or annual physical? Schedule your appointment now through MyChart so you know your numbers and work to reduce your own risk of cardiovascular disease.

Blood Pressure and Hypertension

One important number to know is blood pressure as it is a measure of how hard your heart is working to pump blood throughout your body.

Family medicine physician Dr. Leo Bailey III, DO explains blood pressure and the importance of keeping hypertension under control.


Cholesterol is another key number healthcare providers use to understand a patient’s risk of cardiovascular disease. As cardiologist Lloyd Kellam, MD, explains below, both diet and genetics are factors in an individual’s cholesterol level.

High cholesterol is not just a risk for heart disease and stroke, but it can lead to blockages throughout the body, depriving different organs of the oxygen rich blood they need.

Smoking Cessation

Smoking is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. While quitting smoking isn’t easy it is the single most important thing anyone can do to reduce their risks of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes.

Weight and Obesity

Weight is another controllable risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and good nutrition and regular exercise can help in maintaining or losing weight. As Family Medicine physician Dr. Aida Atiq, MD explains below, there are many ways your physician can help you address obesity.

Unique Risk Factors for Women

While heart disease kills one in four people nationwide, it is more deadly for women, with one in three dying from cardiovascular disease each year. Women often experience different symptoms in heart attacks and have increased risk of certain types of heart disease. Additionally, experiencing certain types of high-risk pregnancies can elevate a woman’s cardiovascular risk for the rest of her life. To learn more about Riverside’s focus on women’s heart health, visit the Riverside Women’s Heart Center.

Stress Management and Mental Health Matters

Stress has a major impact on cardiac health, so focusing on mental health and learning to manage stress are important as well.

Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest

Managing controllable risk factors can help reduce cardiovascular emergencies like heart attack and stroke. Recognizing cardiac emergencies and knowing what to do can save your life or the life of someone you love. A “heart attack,” also known as a myocardial infarction, can occur when there is a blockage that prevents oxygen-rich blood from getting to the heart. If you notice any signs of a heart attack, it is critical to call 911 immediately.

Cardiac arrest is another type of emergency that occurs when the electrical activity in the heart stops, which keeps the heart from pumping blood through the body. This can occur on its own or can be caused by a heart attack, which is why no one should drive themselves to the hospital if they notice heart attack symptoms.

If a teenager or adult has a cardiac arrest in front of you, calling 911 and starting hands-only CPR can give them an increased chance of survival. Bystander CPR can keep a someone having a cardiac arrest alive long enough to get to the hospital to get the advanced care they need.

Caring for Patients Having a Heart Attack

Arriving at the emergency department with chest pain can be scary for a patient and their loved ones. What happens after they arrive will vary on the situation, and it may feel chaotic with many different people rapidly getting information and conducting tests. But, as cardiologist William Harris III, MD notes below, it is actually a lot like a well-oiled NASCAR pit crew with every individual knowing their specific role and working together to restore blood flow to the heart as fast as possible.

Video Coming Soon!