MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - Dr. Christopher Allen sees hundreds of patients a week of all shapes, sizes, and ages; some who knew about their heart problems, others who just found out recently.
"Most people will almost always have something...and then minimize their symptoms," Dr. Allen says. "For most people, it's unlikely to not have any symptoms at all."
The symptoms can be a subtle, but persisitent pain in any part of the body, which could be your heart trying to tell you something.Dr. Allen says women usually have more unusual symptoms, like shortness of breath or fatigue. Whatever the symptom, he says you should take it seriously. Lt. Mark Cotton with Macon Police was found dead just last week, after he collapsed at the police training center, from an apparent heart attack. At just 49-years-old, many asked how someone relatively young and fit, could die so suddenly.
Doctors at Heart of Georgia Cardiology in Macon use state-of-the-art technology to detect a problem for patients suffering from symptoms. Dr. Allen hooks patients up to an EKG monitor in what's called the stress lab and measures cardiovascular performance.
"If there's an area that blood isn't getting to, we can see that by comparing the before and after images, and determine that there's probably a blockage in the heart," Allen says. He makes five suggestions to keep your heart healthy, so you don't have a surprise attack.
1. Quit smoking
2. Control blood pressure
3. Control cholesterol
4. Exercise at least 30 minutes 4 days a week
5. Follow up regularly with your family doctor.
And the most important thing: any persistent pain should not be taken lightly.
"Remember that pain, if you ever have that again, go straight to the ER," Dr. Allen says. Allen also stressed the importance of a healthy diet, and training your children to avoid smoking at all costs.