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Aug 18, 2016

Healthy Living on Ways to “Love Your Heart”

“Love Your Heart” – That’s the theme under which the Belize Medical Associates will be hosting its annual anniversary symposium. So many of us are at risk of heart disease; based on our lifestyle, our diet and prevalence of other conditions like hypertension and diabetes. In tonight’s edition of Healthy Living, we look at the risk factors, symptoms and ways of preventing heart disease.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

Heart Disease is on the rise across the globe. The W.H.O. estimates that up to seventeen point five million people across the world die each year from cardiovascular diseases. This is why the Belize Medical Associates is trying to bring the issue of heart health into focus for Belizeans.


Fernando Cuellar

Dr. Fernando Cuellar, Internist, Belize Medical Associates

“Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading cause of morbidity, meaning reasons people go for consultation and mortality, reasons people die throughout the world. And Belize is no exception. More and more we are seeing that these conditions which now have a unique terminology—non-communicable diseases; hypertension and diabetes—are leading more to heart disease, strokes. And definitely we thought as a group to put a little more focus on the heart diseases. The main that would immediately stand out is heart attack, where people would have a sudden problem with the heart where the blood flow through the arteries that take blood to the heart muscle becomes obstructed and that part of the heart suffer. This unfortunately could be a cause of sudden death; somebody could be fine one minute and then starts complaining of chest pains and topple over and die. The other big one that we see is congestive heart failure; where the heart muscle becomes weak over a period of time and it cannot do its function as a pump because pretty much your heart is a pump. And when it starts failing in that sense, then you develop symptoms such as shortness of breath. Then we have some that are less common such as valves problem of the heart. You develop these because of childhood diseases; the famous rheumatic fever can damage the heart and not show up until mid-twenties, thirties; that kinda thing. And then you find a damage heart valve that needs to be replaced for example.”


What puts someone at risk for heart disease? Well, pay attention to your behavior. Physical inactivity, poor diet and tobacco use are some of the main risk factors.


Dr. Fernando Cuellar

“High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease; diabetes is a risk factor for heart disease, high cholesterol, obesity for sure; lack of exercise and last, but certainly not least is smoking. Cigarette smoke, I find that this is perhaps one of the biggest risk factors that would contribute to the development of heart disease. Especially for the congestive heart failure, what happens is that when you have high blood pressure—and especially the left side of your heart, which is the main part that pumps blood to the rest of your body—after having to go against that blood pressure, it makes the heart become enlarged and an enlarged heart is a weakened heart. So over time you lose that strength in the heart muscle and then you develop congestive heart failure.”


What can you do to avoid a heart attack? It starts with knowing your risk factors, symptoms and most importantly getting your check up.


Dr. Fernando Cuellar

“Curiously females, unlike what sometimes is thought, have a higher incidence of heart disease and these related conditions. So yo go for your annual checkup even though you may be feeling fine—even though you feel like you are athletic or doing well—you still go to your caregiver, get your annual checkup, where that person will be interviewed, their risk factors identified, their family history looked at. A general physical examination and there are some basic blood tests that need to be done: checking your cholesterol, your sugar levels. More than likely an EKG, a baseline EKG needs to be done to see if there is anything suspicious. Chest discomfort…I wouldn’t even want to call it chest pain, because when you get chest pain already then it is a bit more serious. But any uneasiness, any chest discomfort needs to be checked. Shortness of breaths, especially when it is progressive. Yo say, oh I remember earlier this year, I began feeling this now ih feel like I can’t even put on mi clothes without having to stop and rest. So those are definitely two of the main things—the chest discomfort and shortness of breath.”


This is why this year, BMA has themed it’s anniversary celebration, “Love Your Heart.” In addition to a health fair on August twenty-seventh, the twenty-eight year old hospital will host a symposium with a visiting cardiologist.


Dr. Fernando Cuellar

“We’re gonna do a symposium next week. We’ve invited a Belizean American cardiologist to give us some words. We’ve chosen him because he has seen Belizeans from out of Belize in the place where he works in the States so he is quite familiar with our reality.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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