American Heart Month 2013

American Heart Month

This February, in honor of American Heart Month, give yourself a valentine and learn everything you can about living a heart healthy life. 

Make it your personal mission to learn more about what you can do to stay healthy by living heart healthy. Cardiovascular diseases (CVD), as defined by the American Heart Association, include coronary heart disease (coronary artery disease, ischemic heart disease); stroke (brain attack); high blood pressure (hypertension); and rheumatic heart disease.

About 80 million US adults have one or more forms of CVD. Each year in the US, cardiovascular diseases top the list of most serious health problems. Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death and stroke is the third leading cause of death. Stroke is also the number one cause of serious, long-term disability. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women: currently some 8 million women in the U.S. are living with heart disease, yet only one in five American women believes that heart disease is her greatest health threat.   

It's Time to Go Red for Women

UTMB Health Goes Red for WomenOn Friday, Feb. 1, UTMB Health joins the American Heart Association in marking the Wear Red for Women's Heart Health campaign. This annual initiative raises awareness about cardiovascular disease, especially for women.

In recognition of the importance of the effort, UTMB will be asking members of the university community to wear red on that day, to take a group photo, and share it. See some of our great people who participated in 2012:  UTMB's 2012 Facebook Go Red Gallery and our Go Red Gallery 2012 for our Clinics.

A Happy Heart is a Healthy Heart

Drs. Naveed Adoni and Ken Fujise

We’ve all been intuitively aware that a positive attitude can make you feel better.   As doctors, we’re constantly reminding people how diabetes or smoking can increase your risk of heart disease.  And, of course, medical advances help us treat and prevent the risk of heart disease.   But not much attention has been given to the fact that being happy, in love or just plain positive in nature can lower your risk of heart disease. 

The Canadian Nova Scotia Health Survey, a large study with 10 years of follow-up, showed that people who generally are happier or have a positive outlook on life were 22 percent less likely of developing coronary artery disease.

This positive attitude has been shown to influence factors that contribute to good heart health, including decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressures, enhanced modulation of heart rate, a lower risk of developing diabetes and lower stress and lower cortisol levels.  [Read rest of article]

Dr. Ken Fujise is head of the division of cardiology at UTMB, and Dr. Naveed Adoni is a cardiology resident.

See list of our University Cardiologists

Read our Heart Health Newsletters

Get information about Cardiovascular Disease

Heart Illustrations

Heart Conditions in Adults

Heart Conditions in Children

Heart Procedures


Heart Disease Prevention

Cardiac Rehabilitation


Chest Discomfort

Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain. 

Discomfort in other Areas of the Upper Body  

Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.

Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort

Other Signs

May include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.


If one or more of these signs is present, don't delay:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.


Sudden loss of responsiveness. No response to tapping on shoulders 

No normal breathing. The victim does not take a normal breath when you tilt the head up and check for at least five seconds.

If these signs are present, CALL 911.

Read more about Warning Signs from the American Heart Association. 

5 steps to a healthy heart for Valentine's Day

February is Women’s Heart Health Month and today, being Valentine’s Day, reminds us all to attend to our sweethearts, heartthrobs and even heartaches.

Did you realize that in the past 60 or so years, the death rates from cardiovascular disease and stroke have been reduced by 60 to 70 percent? This has been because of medical advances such as medications, heart stents, pacemakers and increased attention to lifestyle factors like exercise.

Keeping salt and saturated fat content low in your diet will help reduce risks of high blood pressure and dangerous cholesterol. Knowing your numbers on blood pressure and cholesterol will help you and your doctor work to improve your risk.

As a nation, we have cut our smoking rates in half, further reducing our heart disease rates. In cities that banned smoking in public places, heart attack rates were reduced by almost half in six months, mostly among nonsmokers. This shows the risk of even passive smoking on the heart.

But you know all these basics by now, don’t you? Let me share some things from the cardiology literature that might not be quite as familiar to you.

1. Heart disease can be reversed. Work done by Dean Ornish as described in his books like “Love and Survival” show how a low animal fat, essentially vegetarian diet, relaxation exercises like meditation and yoga, and forgiveness exercises opened coronary arteries and improved blood flow. This was accomplished without drugs or invasive cardiac procedures.

2. The Mediterranean diet might be the world’s most heart-healthy diet. Despite having twice the fat content of the standard American Heart Association diet, it provided risk reduction of over 40 percent in patients who had recent heart attacks. With its improved flavor, healthy fats like olive oil and fish, whole grains, lots of vegetables, garlic and even a bit of red wine, people were more likely to stick with this diet and better protect their hearts.

3. Depression is related to heart disease. Depressed people had poorer outcomes if they had heart disease and increased attacks after a first heart attack. Depression also increased the risk of developing heart disease to four times normal.

4. An aspirin a day is even better than an apple a day. Two are better than one. A review article in 2010 by cardiologist James Dalen concluded that 162 mg is more effective than the usually prescribed single 81 mg baby aspirin in reducing heart attack and stroke risk. Higher doses might lead to increased risk of bleeding.

5. Eat fish at least once a week, especially cold- water fish like wild-caught salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, and halibut. Doing so substantially reduces the risk of heart attack and sudden death. For those with known heart disease or risk factors like high cholesterol, diabetes or high blood pressure, supplementing with 2,000 mg of fish oil daily will provide added benefit.

Dr. Victor S. Sierpina is the W.D. and Laura Nell Nicholson Family Professor of Integrative Medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

Call for assistance day or night 409-772-2222

UTMB Health Cardiology Outpatient Clinics

Cardiology, Texas City
1125 N. Hwy 3, Suite 160
Mainland Medical Pavilion
Texas City, Texas 77591
(behind Mainland Hospital)
(409) 933-0017

Multispecialty Center &
Stark Diabetes Center
Located in Victory Lakes Town Center
(between Sports Authority and Hobby Lobby)
2660 Gulf Freeway South
League City, Texas 77573
(832) 505-2000

Specialty Care Center at Victory Lakes
Surgical Center
2240 Gulf Freeway South
Suite 2.100
League City, Texas 77523
(832) 505-1800

University Hospital Clinics
1005 Harborside Drive
5th Floor
Galveston, Texas
(409) 933-0017


Cardiac Catheterization and Electrophysiology Laboratory
301 University Boulevard
4.130 John Sealy Hospital
Galveston, Texas 77555-0270
(409) 772-0402

Heart Station
301 University Boulevard
4.100 McCullough Bldg.
Galveston, Texas 77555-0763
(409) 772-1262

Cardiac Echo Laboratory
301 University Boulevard
4.100 McCullough Bldg.
Galveston, Texas 77555-0763
(409) 772-5353


See all our UTMB Clinics

American Heart Month

Cardiology Physicians

Faculty members of the Division of Cardiology at UTMB Health are strongly motivated to provide our patients with state-of-the-art and compassionate care, made possible by their years of experience, teaching, and research. Our strength is specialization and teamwork–while each faculty member focuses on a very specialized area of cardiology, he/she collaborates with other experts to provide patients with the best overall care. [read more]

Related UTMB Web Sites


Texas Transplant Center

Cardiothoracic Surgery 

External Sites

American Heart Association

American Stroke Association

HeartHub for Patients


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