The importance of heart health – especially now


In this article:

  • Nearly half of all American adults have some form of heart disease, according to the American Heart Association.

  • Fears may have prevented people from undergoing cardiac health exams and having symptoms of heart problems assessed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Providence’s Nazanin Azadi, MD, shares why we need to pay attention to our heart health -- especially now. 

In this Q&A, Providence cardiologist Nazanin Azadi explains why heart health is always something to monitor, how to keep your cardiac system in good shape, and the differences between men and women when it comes to cardiovascular health.

Nazanin Azadi, MD, who specializes in internal medicine, cardiology and interventional cardiology, reminds us why we need to pay attention to our heart health—especially now.

What advice do you have for patients concerned about maintaining heart health?

I’d tell them to incorporate four to five days of moderate exercise in their weekly routines, and to monitor their diet, avoiding any highly processed, high- carb and high-fat diets. Finally, ask your physician about your 10-year risk of having a cardiac event, based on your risk factors.

When should a patient see a cardiologist?

There are three groups of patients who should see a cardiologist. The first is any adult who has symptoms of chest discomfort with exercise or at rest. The second is patients who have a family history of premature cardiac events, specifically in their parents or siblings. The third group is those who have multiple risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, inactivity, or smoking. Patients with three or more of those risk factors should see a cardiologist at least once to get further risk assessment.

When should a patient go to the emergency room? 

Anytime you have the symptoms of chest pain or pressure, go to the ER. I usually say “discomfort,” because sometimes people don’t describe it as a pain that is new and sudden.

Can people safely undergo cardiac health exams and procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Yes. We have undertaken many precautions to keep our cardiac patients safe from the threat of COVID-19 infection, including video health visits and extremely diligent disinfection protocols in our offices and hospitals. Never delay seeking care for a cardiac health condition. You may be doing yourself more harm.

What are some of the differences between men and women when it comes to cardiac care?

Research tells us that women are sometimes turned away in the emergency room, even when they have symptoms of heart disease because there’s a perception that it’s more of a man’s disease. Also, often the women’s symptoms are not the typical left-sided chest pressure. Sometimes they’ll come in with abdominal pain or fatigue. When they see me, I always incorporate some sort of imaging with any kind of stress testing or risk stratification, because I find that imaging is more sensitive and specific. Overall, it’s important for women to not ignore their symptoms. 

How will patients in the South Bay area of southern California benefit from the new affiliation between Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center and Keck Medicine of USC?

Patients will benefit because it’s a collaborative, team-based approach to patient care. We’re now able to team up with our surgeons from USC to determine which intervention is the best fit for the patient. Sometimes patients would benefit more from a noninvasive or percutaneous approach to their treatment, versus surgical. And that’s where we sit down and meet with our surgeons and decide which treatment is best, taking into consideration the patient’s personal needs and their input as well.


Find a doctor

Suspect you or a loved one has a heart problem? The Providence cardiac team can help. Through Providence Express Care Virtual, you can access a full range of healthcare services. If you need to find a doctor, you can use our provider directory.

Providence in your inbox

Subscribe to our newsletter to get more educational and inspirational stories from the expert caregivers at Providence.

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.


About the Author

The Providence News Team brings you the updates to keep you informed about what's happening across the organizational ecosystem. From partnerships to new doctor announcements, we are committed to keeping you informed.

More Content by Providence News Team
Previous Article
Melanoma study: are two therapies better than one?
Melanoma study: are two therapies better than one?

The incidence of melanoma is increasing faster than other skin cancers. Although surgery can cure early sta...

Next Article
Delaying care can turn to regrettable results
Delaying care can turn to regrettable results

The fear of seeking needed medical treatment across our community has cascaded into unwarranted complicatio...