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American Heart Month: Dr. Lee O. Butterfield Column

Dr. Lee O. ButterfieldDr. Lee O. Butterfield
Dr. Lee O. ButterfieldDr. Lee O. Butterfield

No matter where you're from or where you are, you can take steps toward heart health. Dr. Lee O. Butterfield MD, FACC at Coastal Plains Primary Care has over 25 years of Internal Medicine and Cardiology experience and brings a wealth of knowledge for treating complex medical and cardiovascular issues to our community. Here Dr. Butterfield discusses his views on American Heart Health Month below and the key issues facing the Hampton region.

February is American Heart Month. Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death and disability. Unfortunately we live in a part of the country where heart disease is very prevalent. In fact it is the leading cause of death and disability in the United States. Especially in the Southeast, where we live, it's even more prevalent.

We see quite a bit of different cardiovascular diseases here at Hampton Regional Medical Center in Affiliation with MUSC Health, both as an outpatient facility and an inpatient facility. We are very fortunate we have an excellent cardiovascular team here. The technologies that we have at the hospital are state-of-the-heart, to diagnose and treat these illnesses.

Despite tremendous advances in health care in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, one in four people in the United States will die from cardiovascular disease. To put things in perspective, one in nine women in the US will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Some will ultimately succumb to it. One in three will develop cardiovascular disease and many more will succumb to it than breast cancer. This is by no means diminishing the impact of breast cancer on women's (and some men's) lives, but I am just trying to emphasize the prevalence of cardiovascular disease in our country.

It is coronary artery disease, heart attacks, abnormal heart rhythms, transient ischemic attacks (mini strokes), stroke, aortic aneurysm and dissection, and poor circulation in the legs. The risk factors are family history, cigarette smoking, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, and certain inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus among others. Which we have a prevalence of these risk factors in our community.

It's very important for people to be proactive before they actually develop disease.

If you are having signs or symptoms, talk to your primary care physician and come see us at Hampton Regional Medical Center and Coastal Plains Primary Care so we can get you the care you need. Here is what to look out for:

People typically think of chest pain as a sign of heart disease, but the symptoms are much more broad than that. Often times the symptoms of cardiovascular disease can be vague: shortness of breath, back pain, jaw pain, unexplained fatigue, dizziness, loss of concentration, erectile dysfunction in men, weakness or pain in the legs. If you have any of these symptoms and have some of the risk factors mentioned above, it is imperative to get in to see your physician or medical provider immediately.

While survival rates from heart attack and stroke have improved significantly over the years with the advent of new technologies and treatments, the goal for us at Hampton Regional Medical Center is to never let you get to the point where you need those technologies. Prevention is the key. And the overwhelming number of heart attacks, strokes, and amputations due to poor circulation can be prevented if people are aware of their risk factors, symptoms, and are proactive in seeking advice and treatment from their health care providers.