Heart Disease: Warning Signs & Prevention

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States and is also the leading cause of death for women. Latina women are particularly at risk, as many of us don’t take the time to exercise (yikes!). Dr. Juan J. Rivera is an Internist and Cardiologist in Miami, Florida, who specializes in cardiovascular diseases. Originally from Puerto Rico, Dr. Rivera is very active in the Latino community. He is the Chief Medical Correspondent for Telemundo/NBC Network and also created the wellness blog, Corazon Hispano. Dr. Rivera shares some heart disease warning signs and prevention tips that could save your life. 

Warning Sign: Increasing Jean Size

Worried about heart disease? Your best indicator may be your clothes. "Has your jean size increased in the past few years? If it has, that means you are accumulating too much fat in the mid-section or abdominal area,” explains Dr. Rivera. “This increases inflammation in your body, which in turn increases the risk of diabetes and heart disease.” 

Prevention Tip: Lose The Belly Fat

As mentioned above, fat in the abdominal area increases your risk for heart disease. Exercise is a great way to help lose the belly fat. "Aerobic exercise (10,000 steps per day or 3 to 4 miles) and a low carbohydrate diet are the first steps to lose the extra pounds," says Dr. Rivera. "If you are interested in a natural supplement that could boost your metabolism, you can try 100 mg daily of Raspberry Ketone."

Warning Sign: Loud Snoring

Are you keeping your significant other up all night with your snoring? Besides totally annoying the person sleeping next to you, snoring may indicate something more serious is going on. "If you snore, it could mean that you suffer from a condition called sleep apnea,” Dr. Rivera says. “This causes decrease oxygenation while your sleeping which in turn can raise your blood pressure, predispose you to arrhythmias and overall can increase your cardiovascular risk.”

Prevention Tip: Good Sleep

Another reason to get your beauty rest? It's good for the heart! “Make sure you get seven to eight hours of good sleep,” says Dr. Rivera. “Studies have shown that people that sleep five hours or less or more than nine are at increased risk of cardiovascular events and their overall mortality is higher." 

Warning Sign: Depression and Anxiety

Depressed or anxious? Your heart may pay for it later. “Studies have demonstrated that both depression and anxiety can cause the plaque in your coronary arteries to rupture leading to a heart attack,” explains Dr. Rivera. Depression and anxiety are said to be a growing epidemic in the United States, so if you (or your loved ones) feel like your depression or anxiety is serious, seek help from a medical professional immediately.

Prevention Tip: Take Time For Yourself 

As a woman, sometimes it can be hard to find time for yourself between jobs, kids, and relationships. However, taking the time to do something good for yourself, may be beneficial to your health in the long run. "Latinas are wonderful human beings who are always taking care of everyone but themselves,” explains Dr. Rivera. “Spend some time doing yoga, meditating, taking dance lessons, getting a massage... in other words, get that stress level down.”