Eating healthy and exercising are well known tips to keep your heart healthy, but doctors at Baylor College of Medicine say don’t forget about the follow-up appointments.
"Many times people will see a doctor and receive a diagnosis of high cholesterol or blood pressure, for example, but they won’t follow up with another appointment," said Dr. Joseph Coselli, professor of surgery at BCM and chief of Adult Cardiac Surgery at the Texas Heart Institute. "These secondary doctor visits are needed to monitor progression of risk factors and to help find the most effective treatment options."
Health problems could become worse
If a doctor recommends a follow-up evaluation within the next two years, but the patient ignores the advice and waits five years, health problems could worsen or turn into another health issue, such as heart disease.
The reason for this behavior, Coselli said, is that some people go into denial and just want a quick fix rather than making long-term lifestyle changes.
No magic bullets
"They may have the intention to make changes and follow recommended doctor visits, but there are no magic bullets, and long-term changes are needed," said Coselli.
Coselli recommends asking your doctor some important questions:
- What is a healthy weight for me?
- What does a balanced diet consist of?
- How do I quit smoking?
- What exercises should I add to my daily routine?
- What health screenings should I have?
- When should I follow up with my next appointment?
"Everyone always says tomorrow is when they will start that diet or workout, but tomorrow never comes. It has got to be today," Coselli said. "You have to be responsible for your health and make important changes to keep your heart healthy."
Coselli is also associate chief of the Cardiovascular Service and chief of the Adult Cardiac Surgery Section at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital.