I'm so excited to be posting my first blog entry! The purpose of this blog is to educate on how we can live healthier, happier lives. As a physician, the learning never stops because our understanding grows daily. We have to take this new information and, if appropriate, apply it to our practices. For the last 1 1/2 years I have devoted myself to learning the latest on prevention of heart attacks and strokes. It is a very exciting time as new discoveries are occurring at an unprecedented rate. New fields such as genetics has ushered in amazing ways to understand our body as never before. And with so much to share in this area I wanted to use this blog for that purpose!

I have decided to begin with the red flags of heart disease and strokes. In other words, what conditions do you have that might indicate you are at increased risk for these events. Some of these are obvious, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and smoking. Others are not as obvious such as migraine headaches with aura, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lack of sleep, and erectile dysfunction just to name a few.

Did you know that depression has been associated with heart problems? One study at Columbia University showed that women with depression suffered twice the rate of sudden cardiac death (abrupt loss of heart function) as compared to women who weren't depressed. There are many theories as to why we see this, but "toughing it out" is usually not the best option. 

Sleep apnea, low vitamin D levels, and psoriasis are a few more red flags. What does this mean? It means that if you have some of these red flags you should be evaluated for hidden vascular disease. Identifying a condition before it causes a problem is always best. Think of it as throwing a glass of water on something smoking before it has a chance to burst into flames. 

There are more red flags that we will cover in future posts!