Published on February 07, 2014

Q&A: Nazareth Hospital cardiologist Dr. Thomas Metkus: heart disease prevention

Dr. Metkus talks about how to prevent heart disease.

Dr. MetkusHeart disease remains the number one cause of death among men and women in the U.S. As treatments improve with each passing year, so does our knowledge of what we can do to prevent the disease, says Thomas Metkus, MD, FACC, a cardiologist at Nazareth Hospital.

Q: What’s the best measure of heart health?

While we have many objective measures, like blood pressure, blood cholesterol and fasting blood sugar testing, how a person feels is just as important. If you have low energy or struggle to perform daily activities, you need to talk to your doctor about the possibility of heart disease.

Q: What’s the first step to improving heart health?

For many patients, it’s losing weight. Even modest weight loss can improve a host of heart health indicators, from lowering blood pressure to reducing the risk of diabetes. It also will improve your ability to enjoy daily life.

Q: Do you recommend any certain diet?

We advocate the Mediterranean diet. Basically, it’s a high-fiber diet, with lots of fruits and vegetables and foods low in saturated fats. People find they’re able to stick with it more often because it’s not as aggressively fat-restrictive as other diets.

Q: What about exercise?

Ideally, we’d like people to devote at least 30 minutes, three to five times a week, to sustained cardiovascular exercise such as walking on a treadmill, riding a stationary bike or swimming. However, every little bit counts: Take a brisk 10-minute walk after lunch. Choose the stairs instead of the elevator.