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Medical center stresses heart health

SNELLVILLE — February is National Heart Month, and officials from Emory Eastside Medical Center are urging people — especially women — to be heart smart.

Hospital cardiologist Dr. Laurence Lesser said despite the notion that heart disease is a man's problem, the fact is that one in three women will die of heart disease. Symptoms, he said, for women can be very different, more subtle, than those in their male counterparts.

"Often, worsened shortness of breath is the only hint that coronary artery disease or an abnormal heart rhythm is present," Lesser said.

The No. 1 defense against heart disease, Lesser believes, is a healthy lifestyle that includes good nutrition and regular exercise while shunning cigarettes.

Lesser recommends the following heart-healthy steps:

• Get regular medical checkups and see your doctor immediately if you feel you have heart-related symptoms;

• Do not smoke and avoid second-hand smoke;

• Maintain a healthy weight by eating right and exercising regularly;

• Have cholesterol levels checked and maintain a healthy level;

• Have blood pressure checked and if it's high, ensure that it remains treated.