Take the right steps to a healthy heart
February is Heart Health Awareness Month and heart issues continue to be prevalent today, which brings the need to help those who are suffering heart issues to take the necessary steps to keep themselves healthy.
Dr. John Hamaty is an AtlantiCare Physician Group Cardiologist at the APG Cardiology office in the Hammonton Health Park and other APG locations. His fundamental role as a general critical cardiologist for 29 years is to provide the standard basic level of care for patients and to help them understand and treat their cardiovascular diseases. Hamaty is predominantly in Hammonton four days a week and in Galloway one day a week.
Hamaty noticed that there are plenty of cardiovascular diseases in younger people and believes that COVID-19 may have played a role. While it may be common for elderly people, Hamaty noticed that 30 and 40-year olds have experienced hypertension and high cholesterol as a result of it being sedentary and confined in their homes.
“People definitely were eating more and exercising less so it is pervasive, we’re seeing that in our journals. The risk of cardiovascular disease, simply because of that sedentary lifestyle and change in diet, we’re going to pay for it 10, 15, 20 years down the road and we’re starting to see those changes now,” Hamaty said.
Hamaty is a firm believer in the role that primary care physicians play in being proactive for the needs of patients. He recommends seeing a cardiologist as the physicians notice the symptoms that cardiovascular disease brings that the patients may not attribute to. Hamaty usually tests blood pressure, shortness of breath, palpitations and fluttering as classic cardiovascular warning signs.
“Blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol are the big risks so the more risks you bring to the table, the more likely you are to have heart disease,” Hamaty said.
Hamaty noted that the need for exercise and nutrition is very important to improving your cardiovascular health and that is something he is passionate about. He stated that it all starts with preventative care.
“Exercise is everything, you sit, you die but the opposite is true and that’s the hope, and I’d like to think that the thing I’d like patients to understand is that the more active you are, the longer you live. 20 minutes a day, 20 minutes a day, I say it all day, everyday. I try to help patients understand that you have to move and groove,” Hamaty said.
Whether someone is a 40 year old trying to get an exercise prescription and trying to join a gym or someone who had both knees replaced, Hamaty emphasized that the more active you are, the better you are going to do. Nutrition is key as 70 percent of weight gain or loss is what we eat, according to Hamaty.
“Unfortunately with COVID-19 and being locked down, people started to eat more carbs or even just more in terms of amount so I try to spend a great deal of time helping them understand what’s a carb, why is it bad for you, processed foods, trying to give them little tips. When you’re eating, portions matter and color matter, white is wrong, I say it all the time,” Hamaty said.
With February being Heart Health Awareness Month, people want to get better but what providers have to do is bring these services to the patients to remind them that it’s that time to get their heart checked and make sure that their blood pressure is controlled, according to Hamaty.
“Things like Heart Health Month, women’s health helps patients focus on that. If it’s on their mind, they’re going to want to address it and that’s what things like that do. The programs that AtlantiCare has, their life center is phenomenal for exercise, they have all kinds of programs.
Smoking cessation, how to monitor blood pressure, they have trainers that will help you exercise and it is all under one roof so that’s what is convenient for the patient,” Hamaty said.
When months of awareness such as men’s health, prostate and breast cancer, it gives the physicians and healthcare providers the opportunity to not only diagnose the problem but give them preventative care option measures.
“I talk to the community all the time, I go to the library, community centers, I do stuff for churches and it’s all to bring that awareness and when you have an institution that has the resources to lean on, that’s what helps change the quality of health in the community,” Hamaty said.
With the Super Bowl approaching, Hamaty encourages those to enjoy snacks and sweets but to also watch their salts and eat their food. The need to cut down the salt and fried foods, alcoholic beverages can help with improving cardiovascular health, especially with beer containing salt and carbs, which can be risky for those with high blood pressure.
“Enjoy the day, have that piece of cake when the time comes but remember, it’s what you do everyday that matters and if you’re disciplined and your 20 minutes a day and you’re trying to stay active and your pressure is controlled, those moments of celebration are welcomed but the next day, you got to get back at it and that’s what I encourage patients to do,” Hamaty said.
To learn more about heart health, patients can visit AtlantiCare.org, call at 1-800-569-1000 or find AtlantiCare on social media. Hamaty encourages patients who want to educate themselves on heart health or check themselves to call them or use the information above as a means to provide the proper care for patients who want to be able to improve their cardiovascular health and health in general.