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Heart Smart Living
Heart Smart Living

Cardiologist, author, and heart health expert Dr. Sarah Samaan offers advice on how to live a heart smart life.

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Meet Dr. Sarah

As a cardiologist in practice since 1994, I have had the great fortune of participating in some truly extraordinary advancements in medicine and technology. Heart attacks that we used to consider life-changing are now treated with stents in a matter of minutes, often with no residual damage. Weak heart valves can be repaired through a small hole cut between the ribs, leaving a barely-there scar. Lethal heart rhythms are corrected with pacemaker-defibrillators, many times with the patient happily oblivious to the situation. Sky high cholesterol levels can be brought down to earth in a matter of weeks, preventing heart attacks and strokes with a single daily pill. The list goes on and on, and it’s easy to forget just how far we’ve come.

In my medical training in the 1980s and early 90s, it was all about treating the heart attack. For a long time, I thrived on the adrenaline—jumping out of bed when the beeper went off at 2 a.m., the rush of excitement in the ER, the race down the hallway to the heart lab, IV poles jangling, and the (usually) happy outcome when the drama was done.  Yet as I came to know my patients, and began to understand the risk factors behind their heart disease, it slowly dawned on me that the most important thing I could do was not to be by their side when they were in distress, but rather to help them prevent that situation from ever happening in the first place.

It was thanks to the insightful questioning and occasional skepticism of the patients who entrusted me with their care that I began to take a greater interest in heart disease prevention. As a doctor, I have a powerful arsenal of medications, and I’m not afraid to use them when appropriate. Many times, these modern marvels mean the difference between life and death. Perhaps even more importantly, good medical therapy can restore health and prevent severe disability. But what many of us, doctors and the general public alike, have not yet taken to heart is the powerful effect of lifestyle on heart health. Fully 70 percent of heart disease can be prevented by simple changes in diet and exercise, and by cultivating healthy habits and avoiding those that do us harm.

In my column for Healthline, I look forward to challenging you to make smarter choices, to live your life with more gusto, and to protect and nurture your own amazing, beating heart. 

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Tags: Diet and Heart Health , Heart Attack , Heart Procedures and Surgery , Kids' Heart Health , Men and Heart Health , Weight and Heart Health , Women and Heart Health , You and Your Doctor

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About the Author


Dr. Samaan is an acclaimed cardiologist, writer, and heart health educator.