Living Well with Heart Disease

WebMD Live Events Transcript

The key to living with heart disease is to become educated and involved in your own care, says Harlan M. Krumholz, MD, author of The Expert Guide to Beating Heart Disease. Krumholz joined WebMD Live on Feb. 15 to answer your questions.

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

MODERATOR:
Welcome to WebMD Live, Dr. Krumholz. Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. But because of advances in treatment the number of Americans living long-term with heart disease is increasing. Can those who are living with heart disease do it well -- have a good quality of life, not just wait for "the big one?"

KRUMHOLZ:
I don't think there's any question that we have within our reach today the ability to help people live long and healthy lives, even after the diagnosis of such a threatening disease like heart disease. One of our challenges is to help people take advantage of the progress and breakthroughs that we've had in medicine so that they can live these long healthy lives.

One of the great problems we have in medicine today is in spite of our great gains in knowledge, many people are being left behind. That is, the knowledge that we have is not always made available to all the people who could benefit from it. I wrote this book to put the critical, most essential information in people's hands and to make that information easily understandable and available to them so that they can use it to get the very best care and give themselves the best chance of beating heart disease.

"Although there are many talented, dedicated health care professionals who are delivering the very best care, it is actually imperative patients take charge of their own health, educate themselves about their own health care issues and participate actively with their physician and nurses in their care."

MODERATOR:
In your book, you reference seven key strategies for "taking charge" of heart disease. Could you explain please?

KRUMHOLZ:
In this book I've tried to do two things. First, encourage and motivate people to get involved in their health care. Many people are used to a relationship with the health care system where they are taking orders or handed prescriptions and often do not understand the relationship between the strategies that are being recommended to them and their health. There are also generational differences in relationship to health care. Many older patients were raised in an era in which they were taught never to question physicians and nurses. Too often people feel discouraged or inhibited from taking an active role.

Although there are many talented, dedicated health care professionals who are delivering the very best care, it is actually imperative patients take charge of their own health, educate themselves about their own health care issues and participate actively with their physician and nurses in their care. The idea of this book was first and foremost to equip patients with heart disease and those who care about them with the very essential information that can help them.

So, the first part regarding the book is about a philosophy and approach, but the second part is about content. And in that respect, I recognized a need to cut through the avalanche of overwhelming health care information that exists for patients with heart disease. To cut through the hype, through inflated claims that exist for many pet strategies and treatments. I felt that patients and their families need to understand that among the various strategies and treatments that are available, the amount of evidence that's available to support them is not all equal.

There are some strategies for which the amount of evidence is enormous, evidence which indicates that people can benefit themselves tremendously, and for which there is little controversy. There are other treatments and strategies for which the evidence is much less strong, and for which there is some controversy.




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