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Prevention key to heart health, Monongahela Valley cardiologist explains

| Saturday, March 1, 2014, 9:01 p.m.
Amaera Felder, a yoga instructor from Rostraver, shows participants in the Monongahela Valley Hospital's 'Go Red Washington County' program how to do yoga exercises to reduce stress.
Monongahela Valley Hospital cardiologist Dr. R.G. Krishnan discusses heart health awareness with attendees at the recent “Go Red Washington County” program at the Carroll Township facility.

Heart disease patients who have undergone bypass surgery, a cardiac catheterization or the insertion of a metal stent to open a blocked artery in the heart should realize they need to lead a healthier lifestyle to reduce the likelihood of future heart problems, a Monongahela Valley Hospital cardiologist said at a heart health awareness program.

“It's all a temporary fix. Angioplasty and a stent can close again. It pushes the plaque (in the artery) to one side,” Dr. R.G. Krishnan, a hospital cardiologist, told more than 50 people at the recent “Go Red Washington County” program at the Carroll Township facility.

He criticized those who mistakenly think that the surgical procedures or medications give patients the opportunity to continue to live an unhealthy lifestyle.

“We fix one artery and another one closes,” Krishnan said.

Krishnan said that blood clots can form around a stent because “you are putting a foreign body into the artery.” The blood thinners that are prescribed to prevent those blood clots have “a lot of bleeding complications,” Krishnan said.

With cardiovascular disease — including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure — as the leading cause of death among U.S. men and women, heart disease is costing the nation $20 billion, Krishnan said.

“When you fix all of the problems, the solutions are life-saving,” Krishnan said.

But, the doctor said he questioned why people allow themselves to get to the point where they are living with an unhealthy heart.

“The goal is not to get there (unhealthy heart). Prevention is what our goal should be. Just lead a good life,” Krishnan said.

While women seek equality with men in the workforce and in the pay they earn, they have the dubious distinction of having achieved it over the past 20 years in terms of cardiovascular disease, Krishnan said.

The doctor said that heart patients need the coordinated effect of a healthy, low-fat vegetarian diet, stress management, exercise and group support.

He urged the audience not to surrender to feeling they are doomed to heart problems because of genetics — when heart disease afflicts other members of their family.

“Don't blame it on your genes. It's in your hands,” Krishnan said.

One of the women participating in the program, Marcia Wagner of Mt. Pleasant, said she wanted to learn more about heart disease and maintaining a healthy heart because her sister had undergone heart surgery to replace a valve.

John Nowicki of Monessen found the program informative.

“It helps you to be your own health advocate,” Nowicki said.

In order for people to take proper care of their bodies they need to feed it healthy foods, exercise and reduce stress, said Amaera Felder of Rostraver Township, who operates a yoga studio, which she calls Sonador, which means dream in Spanish. The studio is in Rostraver.

“Why not treat it (body) like a Maserati than a cheap car you bought last night,” said Felder, a stress management specialist.

Felder offered some shopping tips for eating healthy and participants in the program had the opportunity to snack on healthy foods prepared by Phoebe Seiverling, the hospital's executive chef, and Michele Pfarr, the clinical nutrition manager.

“Shop the perimeter of the store because that is where the fresh food is. Stay away from the packaged foods. Ninety percent of what you need to make your body healthy” is along the outer edges of the supermarket, Felder said.

Felder also is a big believer in maintaining a routine in life, particularly when it comes to nighttime.

She says that people should go to sleep each night at the same time, with only a 30-minute deviation. As for the weekend, when many people believe it is a time to get some extra sleep in the morning, Felder says people should maintain a wake-up routine as well.

“Don't sleep in an extra two hours on the weekend,” Felder said.

In order to prepare the body for sleep, Felder recommends turning off the radio and television 45 minutes before bedtime and putting that other link to the outer world — the cellphone — to sleep as well.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or