Tag Archives: Robert Pilchik MD

African Americans and Heart Disease

Posted on: February 20, 2015

Beating Heart Disease When the Risks are High

By Dr. Robert Pilchik

Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans, according to the American Heart Association. It takes more lives than all cancers combined. For African-Americans,

Robert Pilchik, MD, FACC Chief, Cardiology Northern Westchester Hospital

Robert Pilchik, MD, FACC
Chief, Cardiology
Northern Westchester Hospital

the disease is particularly deadly: Before the age of 50, African-American’s rate of heart failure is 20 times higher than Caucasians, according to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Despite the grim nature of these statistics, there is hope.

Many of the major risks for African-Americans are modifiable with lifestyle changes and, when warranted, drug treatment. African-Americans tend to have higher blood pressure on average than other populations; they are also more likely to have dangerous cholesterol levels, suffer from chronic kidney disease, and struggle with weight issues.

“Just losing five to 10 percent of your bodyweight
can significantly reduce your risk for heart disease.”

One well-established cause of high blood pressure is sodium—salt—in the diet, and research suggests that African-Americans may carry a gene that makes them more salt sensitive. By choosing low-sodium foods and eating more fruits and vegetables, blood pressure can be lowered.

Regular exercise—even daily walks—can also reduce blood pressure. If a patient’s blood pressure doesn’t respond to lifestyle changes or is already dangerously high, it can be controlled with safe and proven medications.

African-Americans also tend to have lower levels of the ‘good’ HDL cholesterol. Again, a healthy diet with lots of produce and lean protein such as poultry along with regular exercise can have a significant impact in improving cholesterol numbers. What’s more, statin drugs are very effective in lowering ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol.

Weight, another risk factor for stroke and heart disease, can also be managed with lifestyle changes. Just losing five to 10 percent of your bodyweight can significantly reduce your risk for heart disease. Shedding pounds can also lower the risk of diabetes, which also increases the likelihood of suffering a stroke or heart attack. Diabetes is another chronic disease that is higher in African-Americans: Their risk is about double that of non-Hispanic whites.

Visit your physician to learn more about your risk for heart disease and stroke. Understand your factors and put a plan in place to address them. Northern Westchester Hospital offers programs on a variety of chronic diseases as well as FREE tobacco cessation programs (smoking can dramatically raise your risk of heart problems and stroke) that can be incorporated into your personal healthcare plan. Give yourself the gift of health this year – even a few simple improvements will make a big difference to your wellbeing.

Stop heart disease before it’s started. Visit www.mylifecheck.org and get an assessment of your heart health.

Editor’s Note:
Robert Pilchik, MD, FACC is Chief of Cardiology of Northern Westchester Hospital. He is known for his compassion and for helping patients understand their cardiac health. In addition to clinical cardiology, Dr. Pilchik performs diagnostic cardiac catheterizations; cardioversions; transthoracic, transesophageal and stress echocardiograms; transvenous pacemakers; cardiac CTA/calcium scoring; and nuclear stress testing. Dr. Pilchik is a member of Westchester Health with offices in Mt. Kisco, Yorktown Heights and Valhalla.

Read more blog posts on heart health.

Northern Westchester Hospital
offers a Tobacco Cessation Clinic — at NO Charge — to all community memebers. Please call
Jennifer Lucas at 914-6666-1868 for more information.

Learn about cardiac rehabilitation services at Northern Westchester.

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New York Cardiology Chief on Controlling Cholesterol and Reducing Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Posted on: April 21, 2014

How to take control of your cholesterol levels…starting today!
(part 3 of 3)

By Dr. Robert Pilchik, Chief of Cardiology at Northern Westchester Hospital

What’s the best way to bring your HDL and LDL cholesterol levels into the safe zone, and significantly reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease? On your own. That’s right – through diet and exercise. And if you’re a smoker, quitting is a must.

You may be amazed how effective lifestyle changes are in lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol and raising “good” HDL cholesterol, and how fast you can achieve your goal.  (For more information on LDL and HDL cholesterol, read Parts One and Two of this series.) In three to four months, diet and exercise alone can produce more than a 30 percent reduction in LDL cholesterol, which is often enough to put you into the safe zone. What’s more, exercise is the only way to raise HDL cholesterol (which vacuums artery-blocking LDL cholesterol from your body). Continue reading

New York Cardiologist Explains the Meaning of Cholesterol Numbers

Posted on: February 11, 2014

Understanding Your Cholesterol Numbers (post 2 of 3)

By Robert Pilchik, MD, Chief of Cardiology at Northern Westchester Hospital

First, a short review of cholesterol basics: The two types of cholesterol in your body – low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) – behave totally differently. Over time, excess LDL in your body, largely from fatty foods you eat, builds up in your artery walls as hard plaque, narrowing these vessels and restricting blood flow to your heart and brain. This condition, atherosclerosis, is THE leading cause of heart attack and stroke. By contrast, HDL acts as a vacuum, ridding the arterial walls of cholesterol and flushing it from the body. Continue reading

New York Cardiology Chief Explains How Your Cholesterol Level Affects Your Heart

Posted on: January 13, 2014

Learning About Cholesterol Can Mean Living Longer

By Robert Pilchik, MD, Chief of Cardiology at Northern Westchester Hospital

High cholesterol is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease – including heart attack and stroke — which will affect half of all men and one-third of all women. Understanding cholesterol and its role in heart disease, and taking simple steps to achieve safe levels, are vital investments in your heart’s health and your own longevity. It’s never too early, or too late, to take charge of this key aspect of your health. What’s important is to start today.

Continue reading

Northern Westchester Hospital Chief of Cardiology Helps New Yorkers Decipher Heart Attack Symptoms

Posted on: February 4, 2013

Heart Aware: Do you know the signs of a heart attack?

By Dr. Robert Pilchik, Chief of Cardiology, Northern Westchester Hospital

NWH Cardiology Westchester PilchikA heart attack is easy to recognize, right? Not always. People tend to expect a heart attack to be painful, but often it’s a feeling of pressure or tightness in the chest. And for women, the chest pressure or tightness may be missing altogether, which is why it’s so important to be aware of all the signs of a heart attack.

Chest pressure or tightness is just one symptom, and it can radiate out to the arms, neck, or jaw—typically on the left side of the body. Other potential signals that you’re having a heart attack include profuse sweating, shortness of breath, numbness or weakness in your limbs, lightheadedness, and a fluttery sensation in your chest. For women, all the symptoms are the same, except that chest pressure is much less common than it is in men. Fatigue seems to be the primary symptom in women. Any tiredness that comes out of the blue and feels extreme, that’s an indication of a possible heart attack. Continue reading