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Frequently Asked Questions About Heart Health

Network Health heart health round table with hands holding a heart

By pharmacists and registered nurses at Network Health
3/15/2024

You’ve no doubt heard of the importance of taking care of your heart, but what exactly does that mean? There are a lot of questions you may have on your journey to heart health, so we’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions and posed them to our team of pharmacists and nurses at Network Health to help you get a full picture on how to manage and maintain a lifestyle that helps promote a healthy heart.

What do you believe is the most important factor in maintaining heart health?

“I believe the most important factor in maintaining heart health is understanding that a daily exercise routine is strengthening our most important muscle, the heart.”

- Beth Coopman PharmD, pharmacist at Network Health

 

“Living a healthy lifestyle. This can include eating healthy, being active, getting enough sleep and monitoring stress levels.” 

- Amanda Springstroh RN, quality care coordinator at Network Health

 

“For me, I believe that diet is the largest factor in maintaining heart health. It’s challenging with all of the great Wisconsin foods that we have available to us, but understanding the content of these meals and the portion size are important to be aware of for heart health.”

- Andy Wheaton PharmD, director of pharmacy benefits at Network Health

 

Do you have any personal or observed experience that underscores a best practice for heart health?

“Over the years, I found my cholesterol increasing beyond the normal range. I attempted to increase my exercise routine to try to outwork my diet. After several attempts, I found that didn’t work and really had to focus on my diet. I’m now at roughly the six month mark of improved diet and find myself having more energy. We will see how my cholesterol numbers improve at my next lab appointment.”

- Andy Wheaton PharmD, director of pharmacy benefits at Network Health

 

Are there any particular challenges that stand out when it comes to promoting heart health in the community?

“Making any lifestyle change is hard. Bringing awareness that forming new habits may take some time and being their motivator until a habit forms. Other challenges include potential access to treatment, food insecurity and cost of medication or services.” 

- Amanda Springstroh RN, quality care coordinator at Network Health

 

“I think one of the biggest challenges in general is we really enjoy a chance to get together with friends and family, and that normally revolves around food. During these get togethers, the food options are generally not as heart healthy.”

- Andy Wheaton PharmD, director of pharmacy benefits at Network Health

 

“The cost and shorter shelf life of fresh foods can be a barrier to eating a heart healthy diet. The lower cost foods generally have more salt to preserve the food. Salt is something to avoid in a heart healthy diet.”

- Beth Coopman PharmD, pharmacist at Network Health

 

What myths or misconceptions have you encountered regarding heart health?

“Thinking that you will have warning signs, that you are too young or that if you eat healthy then you will fine. Many don’t realize that heart issues can occur at any stage of life.” 

- Amanda Springstroh RN, quality care coordinator at Network Health

 

If someone maintains practices that are healthy for their heart, how can they measure the success of those practices long-term?

“Taking prescribed medications as directed by a personal doctor, a heart healthy diet, physical activity (150 minutes per week minimum), healthy weight and labs all are measurements of success.”

- Kristen Roloff RN, quality care coordinator at Network Health

 

“There are a lot of resources available, whether it’s with your health plan, a local gym or social media. I think you need to pick a plan that could work for you and understand it likely will not be perfect right away. If it’s not working, don’t give up. Try something different. I also try not to change a lot of things at once. Make one or two small changes and build from there.”

- Andy Wheaton PharmD, director of pharmacy benefits at Network Health

 

What are the biggest risk factors for heart disease and how might these change as someone ages?

“History of hypertension, smoking, obesity and lack of physical activity. As you age, changes can occur in your heart and blood vessels, which can increase your risk of heart disease.” 

- Amanda Springstroh RN, quality care coordinator at Network Health

 

Is there anything parents can or should do for their children to promote a healthy-heart lifestyle?

“Well balanced diet, promoting physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight. These will hopefully avoid childhood obesity and, consequently, the ramifications of that.”

- Kristen Roloff RN, quality care coordinator at Network Health

 

“Keep them active and off screens as much as possible. There are so many great activities to enjoy in Wisconsin. Beyond the activity piece, it’s amazing what happens when you get them outside and talking or interacting.”

- Andy Wheaton PharmD, director of pharmacy benefits at Network Health

 

What is the benefit of monitoring your blood pressure at home and when would this be necessary?

“The benefits of monitoring BP at home can provide a more accurate reading for those persons that have ‘white coat syndrome’ when in office blood pressures are done.  People tend to be more relaxed in their own home.”

- Kristen Roloff RN, quality care coordinator at Network Health

 

What role does drinking alcohol play in a healthy heart?

“Alcohol is a stimulant-can raise heart rate and BP-regular alcohol consumption can also lead to an increase in body weight, which is a risk factor for hypertension.”

- Kristen Roloff RN, quality care coordinator at Network Health


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