Cardiologist: Hone in on your heart health this February

Dr. Charles Tillman says it's crucial to keep your physician updated if you notice any potential symptoms of heart disease, such as chest pain or feeling overly out of breath during exertion. (KRCG 13)

February is Heart Health Month, and doctors say now is the time to evaluate risk for heart disease.

In this week's Family First segment, KRCG 13 spoke with SSM Health Cardiologist Dr. Charles Tillman about how to prevent heart-related issues before they happen. He said the first step to staying ahead of your heart health is knowing your risk factors.

"High blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking cigarettes, and a family history of heart disease are really the main things you want to keep an eye on," he said.

Dr. Tillman said the second step is then taking measures to try to mitigate those risks.

"We can't do anything about who our parents are, but at least the other four things you can check for and treat," he said. "Or, in the case of smoking, you can try to make a concerted effort to stop."

All of SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital in Audrain was decked out in red to support Heart Month. Dr. Tillman said while decorations may not seem all that important, awareness is key when it comes to heart disease. The American Heart Association reported one American dies every 33 from heart disease.

Dr. Tillman said those numbers are why he urges patients to take potential heart-event symptoms seriously. "Sometimes, the first time you have symptoms is the time you come in with a heart attack," he said. "Men tend to have the classic chest tightness when they exert themselves. Women may have that, but sometimes they may just feel like they're sweaty or short of breath when they exert themselves."

This February, Dr. Tillman advised honing in on your heart health. He said it's a great way to make sure you're here to celebrate more Valentine's Days to come.

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