Help Your Heart: 5 FAQS

Dr. Heidi Syropoulos joined Independence Blue Cross in 2015 after practicing internal medicine and geriatrics for 30 years. 

Dr Heidi

Why is heart health so important for those over the age of 65? As we age, our blood vessels become stiff and less flexible. Our heart also becomes thicker and more fibrotic, leading to changes in pump function. Many of us have also built up years of bad habits by age 65, such as smoking and not exercising, that can stress the heart.

I was recently diagnosed with hypertension, what should I do? If you smoke, try to quit. Eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, as well as  low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes,  
non-tropical vegetable oils, and nuts.

What are the warning signs of heart disease?  The most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. Women are more likely to experience other symptoms as well, including shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, and  back or jaw pain.

Why is medication adherence important? Medication non-adherence has serious health consequences. Make sure you’re taking your medications, such as statins, as prescribed, to control or improve symptoms.

What role does cholesterol play in heart health? Too much cholesterol narrows the blood vessels  so that blood flow to the heart is slowed or blocked. However, our bodies need cholesterol, so talk with your doctor about the difference between good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and if statins are right for you.