Heart diseases is increasingly affecting younger patients. This can in part be explained by rising levels of stress experienced by people and a general lack of free time to take care of their own bodies. However it is still mainly the over 65’s who are those being admitted to hospitals with symptoms of heart disease.

Also, when it comes to heart disease, women are in a better position than men. “Women are just as likely to develop heart disease as men, but 10 years later than men. However, this advantage can be instantly destroyed by being a smoker,” said the doctor.

Risk factors for heart diseases

Although some patients have a genetic background that makes them prone to developing heart disease, this higher probability does not mean that a person is certain to suffer from it.

According to Dr. Hugo de Mendonça Café, 90 percent of heart disease is directly related to risk factors that we can change with lifestyle improvements. In fact, “most heart diseases come from bad habits”, which means that even with or without genetic predisposition, everyone should adopt the following medical advice.

We are what we eat - today this fact is not in doubt. Bad eating habits are one of the main causes that increase the risk levels of heart disease. In terms of food, Dr. Hugo de Mendonça Café suggests the Mediterranean diet as the one that has been showing the most positive results in nutrition studies.

When we talk about unhealthy habits, we are not just talking about food. The consumption of alcohol or sugary drinks, as well as smoking, must absolutely be avoided.

Simply put, there is no safe level of smoking per day. “An average of two cigarettes a day is enough to double the risk of heart attack in a woman,” said the doctor.

Regarding physical exercise, Dr. Hugo Mendonça Café also gives some recommendations. It comes as no surprise to anyone that exercise is highly recommended, not only to prevent heart problems, but also to prevent illnesses in general and to improve self-esteem. However, it is important to highlight that over-exercising also brings problems, so the people need to take care to ensure a balance.

As we know, being diabetic and obese are also risk factors for developing heart problems. In this sense, the cardiologist clarifies how we should control our weight.

Primarily, Dr. Hugo Mendonça Café suggests controlling abdominal circumference. “We know that belly fat is a metabolically active fat that can increase the risk of heart problems because it increases the likelihood of clot formation”.

He also explained that healthy obesity doesn’t exist. “There is no healthy obesity because being obese is always a risk factor, which is even more severe whenever a patient has another risk factor such as diabetes”, he stated.

However, nobody should think that being slim means being healthy. “There are very thin people who smoke two packs of cigarettes daily, which increases their risk factors,” he said.

Diagnose and treatment at HPA Health Group

The symptoms in each can be very different depending upon the heart disease the person is suffering from. Some symptoms may include chest pain, chest pressure and chest discomfort, left arm pain and nausea, etc.

To diagnose heart problems, cardiologists in the HPA Health Group assess the complete medical history and can recommend several tests to find out exactly what the patient is suffering from. Having a good diagnosis is important for the doctor to know what specific approach to take next. That's why the HPA Health Group prides itself on having the best labs to perform a wide range of exams.

At this moment, “in terms of diagnosis, HPA Health Group currently has a certified Echo lab by the European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging, which is the only one in the Algarve. At the HPA we managed to have a high quality level to the tests we do. We are able to do almost all the tests such as: ECG, echocardiography, magnetic resonances and exercise stress test, etc”.

Regarding treatments, HPA Health Group is also equipped with the most state of art approaches, such as pacemakers, ICDs and surgical procedures - whether conventional or non-invasive.

It is this medical philosophy that he draws on in his consultations at the HPA Health Group and that motivated him to write his book “50 questions I want to ask my cardiologist” which aims to educate readers in a simple way, and to clarify the main queries patients usually have.