Las Cruces Magazine

Fall/Winter 2015-16

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Fall/Winter Edition 2015-16 I 39 T here's a lot of buzz these days about heart disease, and, un- fortunately, it's not all media hype. As a society, we should be concerned about our health and protecting our tickers. But there is good news as well: Medical advance- ments have ensured heart disease is more treatable and more manageable than ever—and it all starts with edu- cating the general public. We talked to two local experts, Dr. Charles A. Dow, M.D., F.A.C.S, a heart surgeon with New Mexico Cardio- vascular Associates, and Dr. Gary S. Smith, M.D., a cardiologist at Moun- tainView Regional Medical Center, to get straight answers about when you should worry and what to expect when you visit a heart doc. One of my parents has heart disease. Does that mean I will also? As is the case with many medical conditions, genetics can play a role in coronary artery disease, but it's far from the only concern. "There is a genetic predispo- sition," Dr. Dow confirms, "and there is little we can do to change a patient's genetic profile, but I would say probably about 70 percent of cor- onary disease is, not 100 percent pre- ventable, but certainly manageable. For example, diabetics can watch their sugar intake more closely and patients with high cholesterol can manage that with diet and exercise." Dr. Smith also points out that family contributors often have more to do with habits than genetics. GeTTinG To The hearT of iT Healthy Living Your most pressing heart questions answered Written by Jessica Muncrief Photography by Donicio Madrid Unhealthy eating habits, smoking, and sedentary lifestyles often start and are encouraged at home. "But there is also a genetic predisposition in the way our livers handle fats," he adds, "just like some of us are more predisposed to sunburns than others. Genetics is a factor, but it's not one of what I call the big four: diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cigarette smoking." When should I be concerned about my heart health? For those that do have a family history of heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, or high choles- terol, Dr. Dow recommends being Dr. Gary S. Smith, M.D., cardiologist at MountainView Regional Medical Center

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