The specialist highlighted the importance of recognizing the close relationship between these conditions.
Dr. Karen Rodríguez, cardiologist director of the scientific committee of the American College of Cardiology, Puerto Rico chapter. Photo: Journal of Medicine and Public Health, Fabiola Plaza.
In Puerto Rico, as in other Latin American countries, there is a high prevalence of diabetes, which is equivalent to cardiovascular disease because it affects the blood vessels that are in the heart, head and periphery, as warned by the cardiologist Karen Rodríguez, cardiologist director of the scientific committee of the American College of Cardiology, Puerto Rico chapter.
Estimates from the island’s health organizations indicate that 15.8% (429,720) of the adults in the population of Puerto Rico live with diabetes, according to statistics from the Department of Health in 2020. In other words, approximately 2 out of every 13 adults have diabetes on Isla.
It is for this reason that the specialist points out that follow-up is imperative due to the risks that patients face, which are: stroke, congestive heart failure, lack of oxygen to the intestine, or they could also develop kidney disease and end up on dialysis. . “Since diabetes is a disease with a high prevalence, the most common is to see patients with diabetes and high blood pressure, which complicates their organs,” she indicated.
In this sense, Dr. Rodríguez specified that the objective of the medical community is to detect diabetes early and manage to control it, since many patients come to the clinic when they have already lived with the disease for many years. “If we make early interventions, we will have healthier populations and reduce these cardiovascular conditions,” emphasizes the specialist.
Another outstanding aspect is the sedentary lifestyle that prevails in many societies today; In some regions of the island, patients often do not have access to appropriate places to be able to walk and do physical activities and, over the years, patients with more physical activity have fewer cardiovascular events, managing to maintain their independence for longer .
Therefore, there are several aspects that can be worked on to have good cardiovascular health and that these patients have a better quality of life.
Importance of multidisciplinary intervention
When it is suspected that a patient has risk factors that can increase the possibility of developing cardiovascular disease, this does not begin with a consultation with a cardiologist, but with the care of primary care physicians, for which it is important that they make a good examination of the patient, being their general practitioners.
Once they arrive at the cardiologist, they begin to see the risk factors that the patient has and how their quality of life can be improved. In many cases, the support of other specialists is required, such as endocrinologists -to manage diabetes, for example, or the thyroid when it affects the heart-; in other patients, they have kidney disease and intervention by nephrologists is required. In cardiologya chain occurs, due to the organs that are involved.
With respect to the community, multidisciplinary intervention is important, since there are also patients whose memory is affected by their heart, so the presence of a neurologist is necessary. Similarly, nutritionists also play an important role in the cardiology. “Cardiology it is not a single specialty, but depends on a network of doctors who provide support”, explains the doctor.
Regarding the use of technology in medicine, the doctor acknowledges that the Internet has come to supply a significant amount of information that the patient has, since before people only had the testimony of others who had had similar conditions. Rodríguez loves it when a patient arrives educated, has read about her diagnosis, and walks in with specific questions about the condition. Now patients often arrive empowered.
The evolution of treatments in his career
There are a number of recent treatments that weren’t available before, so he had to see patients who couldn’t be helped, because they had a problem and they wouldn’t tolerate open heart surgery, but today these patients can be given help, do valve implants, through a limb, for example, and improve their quality of life
These patients of 80, 85 or 90 years can improve after these procedures. It is a satisfaction for the specialist, since it not only helps the patient itself, but also the whole family enjoys the company of their loved one for longer and with a better quality of life. “Many times we cannot cure, but we can take care of it,” says Rodríguez.
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