Back to Top Skip to main content

Focus on prevention … not the cure for heart disease

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Cecily Dye is chief cardiologist at Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Nicholas N. Lopez) Navy Lt. Cmdr. Cecily Dye is chief cardiologist at Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Nicholas N. Lopez)

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Heart Health | Preventive Health

FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Can a broken heart be mended? Relationship experts may have opinions on this, but health care experts say the focus should be on prevention, not cure.

“A large percentage of heart health problems are preventable,” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Cecily Dye, chief cardiologist at Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, killing more than 600,000 Americans annually.

“Heart disease is a broad term that encompasses many different problems,” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Geoff Cole, staff cardiologist at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, and director of the anti-coagulation clinic.

Coronary artery disease, or CAD, is the most common heart disease. It’s caused by the buildup of plaque in the walls of the arteries supplying blood to the heart. Over time, the arteries narrow, blocking blood flow.

For many people, the first sign of having CAD is experiencing a heart attack. About 735,000 people in the United States have heart attacks annually, according to the CDC. About 30 percent of these occur in people who’ve already had one.

Risk factors for heart disease include gender, age, and family history. “Patients can’t do anything about these,” Cole said, “but other risk factors can be managed by adapting a healthy lifestyle.”

For example, diets high in refined foods, which have been manufactured and don’t have all their original nutrients, have been linked to increased risk of heart disease, as have some animal products. In general, red meat has more cholesterol and saturated fat than chicken, fish, and vegetable proteins. So Cole and other health experts recommend a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, nuts, vegetables, and legumes (a class of vegetable that includes beans, peas, and lentils).

Exercise is another important part of a healthy lifestyle. “Every time someone asks me how to prevent heart disease, I tell them to get moving,” Dye said. “Regular physical exercise is a significant part of maintaining a healthy heart.”

“And you don’t need to become a marathoner to reap the benefits of exercise,” Cole said. “Any activity that causes you to move is a good thing.” Cole recommends starting out slowly and then gradually increasing exercise over weeks to months to allow the body time to adapt and prevent injury.

At least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise daily, or 150 minutes weekly, maintains cardiovascular fitness, Dye said.

Avoiding tobacco products is a third heart-healthy move. The chemicals in tobacco smoke can damage heart function as well as the structure and function of blood vessels, Dye said.

“Smokers are twice as likely to have heart attacks as people who’ve never smoked,” she said. “Every time you smoke, you increase your likelihood of having heart disease by 25 to 30 percent. And you’re harming those around you, because exposure to secondhand smoke also increases a person’s risk of heart disease.”

Dye said that unfortunately, she sees “too many young, active-duty service members in the cardiology clinic with early onset CAD. They’re exercising and eating right to meet physical fitness standards. But they smoke.”

Dye said kicking the cigarette habit can decrease the likelihood of CAD progressing. “So even if you’ve smoked your whole life, it’s time to stop.”

Cole said some people may feel overwhelmed by tackling diet, exercise, and quitting tobacco all at one time. “So make small changes,” he recommends, “because over time, they’ll become big changes.”

And the sooner, he said, the better. “Developing healthy habits when we’re young helps reduce our risk of developing heart disease as we age.”

Join TRICARE for an hourlong webinar starting at 1 p.m. EST Thursday, Feb. 22, “What Women Need to Know About Heart Health.” The webinar focuses on how to reduce the risk and recognize the warning signs of heart disease. Register online. 

You also may be interested in...

Preventing seasonal influenza

Article
11/13/2019
Air Force Staff Sgt. Jaqueline Mbugua and members of the Massachusetts Air National Guard’s 102nd Medical Group traveled to the Roxy Theater on Joint Base Cape Cod to provide flu shots to Airmen Nov. 2, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Thomas Swanson).

The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated every year

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Immunization Healthcare | Immunizations

The art of moulage

Article
11/6/2019
Combat Medic Training program students at the Medical Education and Training Campus at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston conduct an emergency cricothyrotomy on a “casualty” during simulation training. The “wounded” manikin also presents with facial burns that were created with moulage techniques. (DoD photo by Lisa Braun)

METC combat medic manikins rock realistic wounds

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

The Defense Health Agency participates in AUSA 2019 annual meeting

Article
10/18/2019
U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Place, DHA Director, discusses upcoming Military Health System changes designed to improve the readiness of combat forces during a seminar held at the Association of the United States Army 2019 Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C.  Lt. Gen. Place explained how DHA is standardizing systems to improve healthcare across the enterprise.  (DHA Photo by Hannah Wagner)

Focus on quality care, innovation at home and on the battlefield

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Preventive Health

The Military Training Network transitions to the Defense Health Agency

Article
10/11/2019
The Military Training Network or MTN transferred from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences to the Defense Health Agency in September 2019. MTN oversees basic, advanced, and pediatric life-support training for more than 350,000 medical and non-medical personnel at 345 military facilities around the globe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexandra Singer)

Shift speeds training where it’s needed most

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

The Head, Hand, and Heart of Women’s Health

Article
10/4/2019
Maintaining peak health is critical for all military personnel. This month, we focus on women whose health concerns and symptoms may be different from those in men. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Roger Jackson)

Health is universal for military personnel and civilians, but some health concerns affect women differently. Here are a few examples.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Preventive Health | Women's Health

MSMR Vol. 26 No. 10 - October 2019

Report
10/1/2019

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Editorial: The Department of Defense/Veterans Affairs Vision Center of Excellence; Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to ocular and vision-related conditions, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2018; Incidence and temporal presentation of visual dysfunction following diagnosis of traumatic brain injury, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2006–2017; Incidence and prevalence of selected refractive errors, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2001–2018; Incident and recurrent cases of central serous chorioretinopathy, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2001–2018

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

Women's Health Month: Take ownership of health, wellness issues

Article
10/1/2019
Navy Cmdr. Francesca Cimino, M.D. (standing) confers with a colleague in the Family Medicine department at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. (Courtesy photo)

Regular cancer screenings are vital, but there's much more to longevity

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Women's Health

Measles Myths: The Measles Can Be Life-Threatening

Video
9/30/2019
Measles Myths: The Measles Can Be Life-Threatening

Measles can be life-threatening, especially for children and among people who have a compromised immune system.

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Children's Health | Immunizations | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Measles-Mumps-Rubella

Measles Myths: Hand Washing Alone Won't Prevent Measles

Video
9/23/2019
Measles Myths: Hand Washing Alone Won't Prevent Measles

Hand washing alone will not prevent the spread of measles. Dr. Margaret Ryan, preventive medicine physician, debunks some myths about vaccinations.

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Children's Health | Immunizations | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Measles-Mumps-Rubella

International medics tackle Tactical Combat Casualty Care

Article
9/23/2019
Air Force students provide cover while pulling a ‘wounded’ training mannequin out of simulated line-of-fire during the Tactical Combat Casualty Care course at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. Battlefield simulation drills are vital to provide medics and combat personnel with realistic situations where they provide life-saving care and evacuation of wounded. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ryan Lackey)

TCCC has become the new standard of medical training proficiency for military personnel

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Health Readiness

Measles Myths: Vaccines Are Safe

Video
9/17/2019
Measles Myths: Vaccines Are Safe

Vaccine components have been rigorously tested for safety. Dr. Margaret Ryan, preventive medicine physician, debunks some myths about vaccinations.

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Children's Health | Immunizations | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Measles-Mumps-Rubella

Measles Myths: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism

Video
9/12/2019
Measles Myths: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism

Vaccines that prevent measles do not cause autism. Dr. Margaret Ryan, preventive medicine physician, debunks some myths about vaccinations.

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Children's Health | Immunizations | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Measles-Mumps-Rubella | Autism Care Demonstration

MSMR Vol. 26 No. 9 - September 2019

Report
9/1/2019

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Editorial: The Department of Defense/Veterans Affairs Vision Center of Excellence; Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to ocular and vision-related conditions, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2018; Incidence and temporal presentation of visual dysfunction following diagnosis of traumatic brain injury, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2006–2017; Incidence and prevalence of selected refractive errors, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2001–2018; Incident and recurrent cases of central serous chorioretinopathy, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2001–2018

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

Prevent to Protect: Analia

Video
8/30/2019
Prevent to Protect: Analia

Cancer left 5-year-old Analia Pages unable to get vaccinated. Her father, Master Sgt. Edward Pages, has to take extra steps to protect her from diseases she’s susceptible to.

Recommended Content:

Immunization Healthcare | Preventive Health | Immunizations

Prevent to Protect: Rosarios

Video
8/30/2019
Prevent to Protect: Rosarios

10-year-old Tatiana Rosario has a weakened immune system as a result of her cancer treatment. Growing up, she and her family made sacrifices to keep her safe from disease.

Recommended Content:

Immunization Healthcare | Preventive Health | Immunizations
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 44

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing: Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.