February is heart month, and while a cardiologist at the Heart and Vascular Center says while knowing your numbers are important, you shouldn’t stop there. Dr. Bassam Saliba, a cardiologist at the Heart and Vascular Center in Lawton, said you need to know your cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose, and A1C numbers because they let you know whether or not you have an issue and what action needs to be taken.

“There has to be some responsibility that falls on the patient and some conscientiousness on their part,” Saliba said.

While some people are ok with their numbers being borderline, he said staying there should not be the goal.

“It’s ok if you’re 80-years-old,” he said. “If you’re 60 or 50, and your blood pressure is a little bit elevated, you’re a little bit uncontrolled diabetic – you will pay the price in the next 15 to 20 years.”

Dr. Saliba said they like to be aggressive when it comes to getting the numbers down.

“Because a little bit of blood pressure and a little bit of diabetes, a little bit of high cholesterol, and you’ll end up with heart disease, vascular disease, but also you will end up with a much higher risk of stroke, kidney failure, and so forth,” Dr. Saliba said.

He said to prevent heart problems, people need to eat healthy and exercise outside 15 to 30 minutes a day, weather permitting.

“People need to just eat healthy, eat meat but don’t exaggerate,” he said. “You have to have some fresh vegetables and fruit, but you also have to have some vegetarian means. It cannot be all meat.”

Dr. Saliba said he tells his patients they don’t have to be perfect when it comes to these things.

“I want you to have some fun,” he said. “I want you to eat some meat. I understand you’re on vacation, and you’re not going to walk and exercise, but give me a little bit, and that little bit really takes the patients a long ways.”

He says he can tell a difference in patients’ vessels when they spend time exercising and eating healthy.

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