Think Heart Health For Holidays

Moderation And Prevention Is Important

With holidays right around the corner, many already are stressing about gaining extra holiday pounds. Extra weight can make clothes fit tighter, and it is detrimental to health. Two SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital cardiologists discuss the causes and preventative measures associated with heart health.

Dr. Paul Larsen is an interventional cardiologist with a certification in nuclear cardiology. He and his wife are raising their family in St. Louis.


Is heart disease the leading cause of death in the U.S.?

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for most racial and ethnic groups, and is tied to many health risks, including high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking and a number of other factors.

What cardiovascular diseases do you treat?

We treat a variety of cardiovascular diseases at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital, ranging from peripheral artery disease, heart artery disease, heart failure, heart rhythm problems and heart valve issues.

What medical tests are performed for a cardiovascular condition?

There are a number of different tests ranging from a simple electrocardiogram, to a heart ultrasound, all the way to a heart catheterization or cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test, all offered at St. Mary’s.

What about your job do you find most rewarding?                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

When I'm able to open a blocked artery in the heart or leg, or plug a hole in the heart, it can have a big difference in a patient’s symptoms. Hearing how much better they feel is a really rewarding part of this profession.


Dr. Andrew Kichura is a cardiovascular disease specialist with more than 8 years of experience in cardiovascular disease, as a hospitalist, and in internal medicine. He and his wife are both from St. Louis, and just welcomed their first child.


Is heart disease preventable?  

Not all cases of heart disease can be prevented, but a significant amount of it can be prevented, delayed or managed effectively to prevent it from getting worse.                  

Isn’t it especially dangerous for someone with heart issues to get COVID-19?        

Patients with heart disease are at increased risk of having complications from COVID-19, however, they are not at increased risk of becoming infected.

Any suggestions to stay heart healthy during the holidays?                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Moderation is key. Do your best to maintain a healthy diet by minimizing extra salt, over-eating or over-drinking. It's also important to try and find a way to remain physically active.  

Why choose a career in cardiology?      

One of the main drivers for me to pursue a career in cardiology was the prevalence of heart disease -- I wanted to contribute to understanding why. I find this work to be very rewarding.

To learn more, or to make an appointment with Dr. Larsen or Dr. Kichura, call 314.645.6450 or visit SSMHealth.com/StMarysHeart. SSM Health Heart & Vascular Care-St. Mary’s Hospital is located at 1027 Bellevue Ave., Suite 200, in St. Louis.

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