Leading SA: UT Health San Antonio doctor talks how to stay heart-healthy

February is recognized as American Heart Month and emphasizes the importance of heart health

SAN ANTONIO – February is American Heart Month and heart health is something families around the state and the country should take seriously.

Dr. Dawn Hui with UT Health San Antonio joined Leading SA on Sunday to talk about the importance of heart health and what to watch out for.

I think most people recognize that, you know, these are well described as crushing or very severe chest pain. The left chest is a very clear warning sign and most people know that if that happens, you should call 911 and get to the hospital. But there are some more subtle signs, which actually I think are more common in the population nowadays. Another way that heart disease presents is that it’s people think it’s heartburn, but that doesn’t go away with heartburn medication. So that is very common sign of heart disease. More chronic heart failure signs include swelling in the legs, feeling shortness of breath or fatigue when you’re doing your usual activity. Women and people with diabetes are also present with less common, what we call atypical signs. And those would be pain in other locations, such as the back or the abdomen rather than the chest. Pain in the neck or the jaw is also a sign of heart disease,” Dr. Hui said.

There are some risks everyone should be aware of as well.

“If you have a family history of people having heart disease at a very young age, then you should go and seek care from a consultation, from a primary care doctor to talk about it. And I would recommend generally, if you know, at five to 10 years younger than the person in your family who had the presentation of their heart disease. Otherwise... if you don’t have risk factors such as diabetes, smoking, obesity, generally speak in consultation with your primary care doctor at about the age of 40. But you know, especially in Bexar County, very many people have diabetes. That’s an extremely strong risk factor. So certainly if you have diabetes, talking to your doctor about screening for heart disease would be important,” Dr. Hui said.

Heart disease is a prevalent problem in and around San Antonio. Hui said it’s starting to become more common in the younger population.

It’s unfortunately very common and it’s, we see it commonly in young people. And again, that’s because of a very high prevalence of diabetes in this area. There’s a very strong family history component that we see as well in this area,” Dr. Hui said.

One of the easiest ways to stay heart-healthy is simple -- exercise.

That can include things that are fun, such as hiking, running around with children or grandchildren, just anything that gets your heart rate up. The recommendation is to have 150 minutes a week, so that would be about 30 minutes over five days of moderate to intense activity. Heart healthy diet is very important. Again, things in moderation. It’s okay to eat red meat and, you know, occasionally fried food. But in general, you want to avoid those. Focus on vegetables, fruits and lean meats,” Dr. Hui said.

KSAT is hosting a heart health town hall this Thursday at 2 p.m. and you can find more information here.

About the Author:

Max Massey is the GMSA weekend anchor and a general assignments reporter. Max has been live at some of the biggest national stories out of Texas in recent years, including the Sutherland Springs shooting, Hurricane Harvey and the manhunt for the Austin bomber. Outside of work, Max follows politics and sports, especially Penn State, his alma mater.