Perhaps no one understands this better than Dr. Lee Friedman, a radiologist from St. Petersburg, Fla. When his doctor told him he needed a pacemaker, his heart health wasn't the only thing affected; it could have affected his career too. Because historically pacemakers had not been approved in the U.S. for use with MRIs, Friedman worried he would no longer be able to work in radiology where he is around MRIs all day. He was also concerned he would not be able to get an MRI himself - a common medical diagnostic procedure - if he needed one in the future.
Friedman asked his doctor many questions and learned that a Medtronic pacemaker with SureScan Technology was recently FDA-approved for use in an MRI environment. He was able to keep his job and today works closely with his physician to ensure ongoing heart health.
'I was in the medical field and I didn't even know there was a pacemaker available that would allow for MRI use. I'm glad I asked my doctor about it,' says Friedman. 'It's important that patients nowadays know their options and have a role in the decision-making process. You can be your best patient advocate.'
Your doctor is your No. 1 resource for understanding important heart health concerns during your golden years. Make an appointment to talk to your physician and be sure to ask these five critical heart health questions:
1. What is my risk for cardiovascular disease?
By 2030, the American Heart Association projects that more than 40 percent of Americans will have some form of cardiovascular disease. This spike in numbers is largely due to the aging baby boomer population. Your doctor can give professional insight into risk factors, some of which include family heredity, obesity, diet and diabetes.
2. Are my numbers normal for cholesterol, blood pressure, blood glucose and body mass index?
Similar to how a roadmap guides you from point A to point B, the results of preventive screenings give your doctor insight on your heart health today and where it might be in the future. Important screenings and numbers to know include cholesterol, blood pressure, blood glucose and body mass index. Ask your doctor if you're in the normal range or if you should make lifestyle changes.
3. What foods and supplements can I take to support heart health?
Diet plays an important role in the health of the heart, and boomers who eat nutritious meals can help keep their heart beating strong for years to come. Foods known to support heart health include anything containing whole grain, fresh fruits such as berries and oranges, and fresh vegetables like kale, carrots and tomatoes. Also ask your doctor about heart-healthy supplements that might be a good addition to your diet, such as an omega-3 or vitamin D supplement.
4. What are some exercises and physical activities I should consider?
Just like your biceps or your calves, your heart is a muscle, and therefore it needs to be exercised to stay strong. Talk with your doctor about your current level of physical activity and what exercises you should add to your routine. Even small changes can have a big impact on maintaining appropriate body weight and heart health. Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking in the back of the lot rather than the front - you'll instantly boost your physical activity.
5. Will I ever need a pacemaker?
You may not think you'll ever need a pacemaker, but statistics show that the number of people getting them is on the rise. If you are diagnosed with a slow heart beat - also known as bradycardia - you may need a pacemaker. Remember, an estimated 50 to 75 percent of people with a pacemaker may need to undergo an MRI scan at some point of their lives, so a pacemaker that is MRI compatible may be a wise choice.
Boomers can make a difference when it comes to heart health by taking a proactive role in working closely with their doctor and asking the right questions. To learn more visit www.JoinThePaceMakers.com.