How to Protect Your Heart
“Not everyone who has ankylosing spondylitis will develop heart problems,” noted Phan, who also leads the Preventive Cardiology and Lipid Program at Loyola University Medical Center. He says there’s no way to prevent aortic regurgitation or the heart conduction problems associated with the condition. Still, he advised patients with AS to take steps to protect their heart health.
“Heart disease is the number one killer in America, whether you have AS or not. It’s important to keep cholesterol and blood pressure in check and live a heart-healthy lifestyle. You want your heart to be as healthy as possible when you are already at risk for another complication,” Phan said.
Among the steps you can take to protect your heart health:
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, low in sodium and saturated fats.
- Don’t smoke.
- Exercise regularly.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Have your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked regularly.
“It’s important for patients to be proactive, understand that they are at higher risk for heart complications, and seek medical attention if they have concerns,” Phan said.