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Rockdale Medical Center promotes heart health with luncheon

Dr. Enrique Flores, an interventional cardiologist with Georgia Heart Specialists and chief of the Rockdale Medical Center Catheterization Lab, will be the keynote speaker at the Red, Hot & Healthy Luncheon.

Dr. Enrique Flores, an interventional cardiologist with Georgia Heart Specialists and chief of the Rockdale Medical Center Catheterization Lab, will be the keynote speaker at the Red, Hot & Healthy Luncheon.

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Rockdale Medical Center staff kicked off American Heart Month by celebrating Wear Red Day on Feb. 1. RMC is promoting heart health all month and gearing up for the annual Red, Hot & Healthy Luncheon on Feb. 22.

Most people know that to keep their hearts healthy they must exercise, eat right, maintain proper weight and not smoke. Even following those basic guidelines, however, is not enough, said Dr. Enrique Flores, an interventional cardiologist with Georgia Heart Specialists and chief of the Rockdale Medical Center Catheterization Lab.

Flores urges people to learn their family health history, specifically that related to the heart. If a person has a parent who lived a healthy lifestyle and died young of a heart attack, that's a red flag.

"They need to know their genetic background," Flores said. "Half of the problems are genetic. What is not known, or not stressed, is you've got to talk to your family. Be aware."

The other important component in caring for the heart is monitoring blood pressure, said Flores. If your doctor tells you to keep track of your blood pressure, that means check it three times a day. People over 50 should also check pressure regularly.

Investing in a blood pressure cuff is a good idea. This allows a person to check at different times of the day (blood pressure is highest between midnight and 6 a.m., with most heart attacks occurring in the morning).

"The number one risk factor that could lead to heart attack or stroke or congestive heart failure is high blood pressure," Flores said.

The ideal blood pressure is 120 over 70, and should be no higher than 130 over 80. Those with a normal heart rate should check their blood pressure about four times a year, Flores said.

"(Elevated) blood pressure is the number one thing that kills hearts and brains, especially when it's not recognized," Flores said.

Flores is the keynote speaker at Rockdale Medical Center's Red, Hot & Healthy Luncheon and Fashion Show, held to celebrate February's American Heart Month. Open to the public, the event is scheduled for Feb. 22 from 12 to 2 p.m. in the classrooms of the East Tower at Rockdale Medical Center.

Tickets are $25 and include a meal, heart health talks, celebrity waiters, entertainment, a fashion show and door prizes. Reservations are required and seating is limited. To reserve a spot, call 800-424-3627.

Other tips Flores suggests for heart health include simple exercise, like riding a stationary bicycle while watching television; eating plenty of vegetables and fiber; avoiding red meats and removing skin from chicken; and eliminating tobacco consumption.

He said plaque build up in the heart begins at birth. The key is to prevent it from becoming life threatening.

"We will have plaque; that's not the question. The question is how to prevent it from building faster and how to prevent it from breaking up and causing obstruction for the artery, and it has to do with genes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, and bad habits like smoking," he said.