Dallas cardiologists: young people are not immune to heart disease

Four Dallas cardiologists said SMU students should know the importance of heart health and prioritize a healthy lifestyle.

The We Heart SMU event took place on Feb. 13, 2019 in the Dedman Life Science building.

Cardiologist Dr. Laura Collins, who has been in the field for 23 years, said maintaining a regular sleep schedule is a way for students to reduce stress and lower their risk for disease down the road.

“Inadequate sleep puts you at risk for heart disease, puts you at a risk for diabetes, for hypertension even,” she said.

One cardiologist said students should know the importance of life’s simple seven, a strategy that can reduce the chances of heart disease and even death. Those seven things are: not smoking, eating healthy, being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, having healthy blood pressure and cholesterol.

Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, the Chief Medical Officer for Prevention for the American Heart Association, said there is a myth of inevitability and that many patients visit based on their genes, or the notion that heart disease will happen to them in their future. This belief leads to many misconceptions about heart disease in general.

“The number one killer of people in the United States of America, all people, every single category, is cardiovascular disease,” Cardiologist Dr. Sanchez said. “Number 5 is stroke. Those two are related. The things that cause heart attacks are basically the same things that cause strokes.”

Another cardiologist said there are many misconceptions people have when it comes to heart disease. One is that heart disease can only happen to men and older people. SMU students were surprised to learn that heart disease can happen to college students as well.

Undergraduate student Travis Harris, who planned the event, was particularly struck by heart disease facts. It impacts everyone, no matter the age or gender.

“I think just the idea that heart health is something that is not only with people of old age or only men,” Harris said. “It can impact anybody even from a young age.”

Many SMU students went to the event to learn what inspired these cardiologists to study medicine and its effects. Some students who attended the discussion have already decided on pursuing a career in the cardiology field.

SMU student Lillian Freeman felt connected to what the cardiologists had to say at the event.

“I was really inspired by what they were saying because that’s pretty much what’s made me want to be a cardiologist as well,” Freeman said.

The four cardiologists encouraged students to find the time for physical activity as it can help manage and reduce stress while maintaining a healthy heart. SMU students were also encouraged to prioritize things and have a good time management system.

“Take care of yourself. Life is precious,” Dr. Collins said.