Why your primary care provider is key to your heart health

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In addition to providing routine care like annual vaccines and wellness checks, your primary care provider (PCP) can also be your first line of defense against serious illnesses like heart disease. As the Medical Director for UChicago Medicine’s South Side Community Cardiology program, I am committed to improving the heart health of residents in Chicago’s South Side communities, who have some of the highest rates of high blood pressure (hypertension) and heart disease in the city.

The health inequities that plague Chicago’s South and West sides predispose residents to key risk factors for heart disease. Lifestyle choices like physical inactivity, excessive alcohol use, smoking and an unhealthy diet are also key contributors that increase the risk for .

Fortunately, your primary care physician can help you avoid or manage these conditions. A primary care provider can also help with:

Nutrition counseling

Healthy eating is one of the primary ways to prevent heart disease. Your PCP can help you manage your diet to meet your nutritional needs and refer you to a dietician for further care if required.

Monitoring your blood pressure

If you have high blood pressure (hypertension), you may not have any symptoms. So, it’s important to monitor your blood pressure on a regular basis. Your PCP will measure your blood pressure at least once every other year – more often if you have high blood pressure. Your PCP can also help you modify your diet to lower your sodium intake and will prescribe medicine if necessary.

Checking your cholesterol

Blood cholesterol is a fat-like substance made by your liver and plays an important role in making hormones and digesting fatty foods. Excess amounts of blood cholesterol – from meat, eggs, poultry and dairy products – are bad for the body. It can build up in the arteries, causing them to become narrow and restrict blood flow. As with high blood pressure, there may be few symptoms of high cholesterol – you may not know that you have high cholesterol until you suffer a heart attack or stroke. It’s important to work with your primary care provider to keep your cholesterol in check.

Managing diabetes

Heart disease and diabetes often go hand in hand as high blood sugar can damage the blood vessels and nerves that control your heart. Furthermore, diabetes can lead to heart failure, a serious condition that means the heart is not pumping blood well. Your PCP can create a personalized care plan for your specific needs.

Cardiologist referral

If health and lifestyle modifications aren’t working, your PCP may recommend medication or refer you to a cardiologist for a higher level of personalized care.

At the South Side Community Cardiology program, we offer the most innovative tools and treatments available. We will work with your PCP to create a personalized treatment plan for your unique needs.
Alan Jackson

Alan L. Jackson, MD

Alan L. Jackson, MD, is an expert cardiologist who specializes in identifying and treating a wide range of cardiac conditions, including everything from common heart problems like hypertension and hyperlipidemia to complex cardiac diseases, such as valve disease, chronic heart failure and coronary heart disease.

Learn more about Dr. Jackson
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Heart Disease Prevention

UChicago Medicine cardiologists understand the risks and causes of heart disease, including hereditary factors that could play a part in your heart health, and we are dedicated to having you be a part of creating the strategies to avoid heart disease. 

Explore our prevention services

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To speak to someone directly, please call 1-773-702-9461. If you have symptoms of an urgent nature, please call your doctor or go to the emergency room immediately.
 

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Heart Disease