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NV cardiology expert shares tips for better heart health

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Monday, February 26, 2024   

It may be the last week of American Heart Month, but one Nevada cardiovascular expert said it isn't too late to prioritize heart health.

Richard Miller is senior director of cardiovascular services at Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican Hospitals in Las Vegas. He said heart disease can change a person's lifestyle from one day to the next.

That is why he encouraged preventive care - which means regular checkups, having updated lab work and discussing pre-existing conditions and family history with your provider.

"Honestly, the most important thing are any risk factors that you might have that are possible to change," said Miller. "That is very, very important because that can affect your heart health over the rest of your life by changing those things that may be risky to your heart health."

Miller said some of the risk factors he encourages Nevadans to change are smoking as well as improving diet and exercise habits.

He said he's been in the cardiology field in Southern Nevada since the mid '80s and has noticed more women soliciting heart health care - which is important since less than half of women entering pregnancy in the U.S. have optimal cardiovascular health, according to the American Heart Association.

Miller said heart attack symptoms can include chest pain as well as discomfort in other areas of the upper body and could include shortness of breath.

One can use the acronym FAST to spot a stroke. "F" stands for face drooping, "A" for arm weakness, "S" for speech difficulty and "T" for time to call 911.

Miller said a majority of cardiac events are unexpected and supports more people knowing how to properly perform hands-only CPR.

"People get very confused," said Miller. "They can't remember how many breaths to how many compressions, how many compressions per minute, and they think 'I'm going to hurt someone if I find them in that condition,' so they opt to do nothing. When even just doing the chest compressions without the breath support will allow that blood to flow through the brain because it still does contain oxygen."

Miller said hands-only CPR can buy someone time until EMS is able to arrive and provide advanced assistance.

The American Heart Association has a brief instructional video showing how to properly perform hands-only CPR.

Miller said he also wants to encourage people to not be reluctant to call 911. He said if you feel chest pain or tightness lasting for more than five minutes, you should call for help.





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