Forbes discusses importance of good heart and blood vessel health

Bahamian Cardiologist and Internist Dr. Winston Forbes (center), who was the guest speaker at yesterday’s Rotary Club of Freeport’s meeting accepts a certificate of appreciation from club president Elsie Knowles (right) and club member Gina English (left). (PHOTO: JENNEVA RUSSELL)

Renowned Bahamian Cardiologist and Internist Dr. Winston Forbes discussed the importance of maintaining good heart and blood vessel health at the Rotary Club of Freeport meeting held at Ruby Swiss Restaurant on Thursday, August 24, 2017.

Providing health tips while dispelling common misconceptions regarding various heart conditions, Dr. Forbes pointed out, “Maintaining proper heart and blood vessel health is essential, as heart disease (Cardiovascular disease) is the number one killer in The Bahamas among both women and men, which is a fact that is completely contrary to popular belief that cancer tops the list.

“By maintaining good heart health we can prolong life helping to decrease morbidity and mortality; of course in order to do this one must control their risk factors.

“In The Bahamas, there is a running joke, which is not funny at all, however it states that if an individual does not have at least one relative with hypertension or diabetes then, he or she is probably not a Bahamian and that is definitely something that needs to change.

“Another popular misconception that has gained traction until a few decades ago suggests that women do not experience heart attacks at the same rate as men, however that is clearly false, as again, Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of both sexes and more women tend to die as a result than men specifically right here on Grand Bahama.

“A factor that contributes to the aforementioned misconception involves the fact that oftentimes women, who present themselves to doctors with possible heart symptoms are less likely to be referred for investigative treatment than men, as typically such is viewed as a menopausal episode or anxiety.

“Of course this is unfortunate because women in such instances are not being given the same degree of attention as men presenting themselves to a physician experiencing the same symptoms.”

Rotarians in attendance were surprised to learn during Dr. Forbes presentation that approximately one-third of all heart attacks are silent, however the cardiologist also noted that there are six symptoms (signs) to pay attention to which indicate that an individual could possibly be experiencing a heart attack.

The signs and symptoms of a heart attack includes chest pain or discomfort, pain in the arm, back, neck or chest, stomach pain, sweating, fatigue and shortness of breath that is oftentimes coupled with nausea and lightheadedness; Dr. Forbes admonished all that if at any point they happen to experience one or more of these not to take it lightly and seek immediate medical attention.

“The Rand Memorial Hospital does a good job of keeping patients alive (should they experience a heart attack or related issue) however, that is dependent upon whether or not the individual arrives alive.

“Unfortunately, the stark reality is one out of every two persons die before ever making it to the hospital, hence it is important, particularly for women, to recognize their symptoms and manage their heart and blood vessel health with the same urgency and attention to detail as they do their reproductive organs.

“Furthermore it is imperative whether or not an individual has heart conditions to maintain a proper, healthy and well-balanced diet as well as exercise 30 minutes a day as it assists in controlling the risk factors associated with Cardiovascular disease, which are high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.
“Once an individual is able to keep these risk factors under control by maintaining proper diet and exercising, the chances of experiencing a heart attack or heart related diseases is greatly decreased.

“Of course this does not mean that everyone who does this would completely avoid a heart attack as hereditary factors also play a role too, however practicing healthy habits decreases such chances significantly,” said Dr. Forbes, who urged Rotarians and the general public particularly men and women to ensure they undergo an annual physical as prevention in such matters is always better than having to find a cure.

Diagnosis and treatment of heart disease as well as other medical issues like cancer, diabetes and more is best done at the earliest stage, thereby ensuring that one’s health does not deteriorate and or decline drastically long before it gets out of control.

Rotary Club of Freeport President Elsie Knowles thanked Dr. Forbes for providing professional, sound insight and advice on maintaining proper heart and blood vessel health, which, followed to the letter especially as exercise and a well-balanced diet is concerned, would help all live longer.

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