Heart health 101: Q&A with Dr. Kareem Morant

Dr. Kareem Morant, Director, Graham & Audrey Rosenberg Family Cardiac Care Clinic

North York General Hospital’s Graham & Audrey Rosenberg Family Cardiac Care Clinic sees approximately 4,000 patient visits each year for heart function, rapid assessment, supportive cardiology, cardiac oncology, arrhythmia and pacemaker management. February is Heart Month, and Cardiologist Dr. Kareem Morant, director of the clinic, weighs in on insights and tips to establish strong heart health.

Q: What lifestyle choices can protect heart health?
Exercise, avoiding smoking, alcohol in moderation, healthy diet and avoiding the major risk factors (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes) can help protect the heart.

See more from Dr. Morant below.

Q: What are some warning signs for heart-related issues that people should look out for?
Chest pain/ tightness or pressure (usually with exertion), shortness of breath (beyond what is expected for regular activities), syncope (losing consciousness suddenly without warning), and heart racing while at rest. These would warrant a trip to the doctor or Emergency Department if severe.

Q: What are the most common heart conditions you see at NYGH?
Heart Failure, Arrhythmia (namely atrial fibrillation) and Myocardial Infarctions (aka “Heart Attacks”).

Q: What are some common misconceptions about heart health?
Here are three that often come up:

  1. It’s a misconception that just because your relative had a heart attack, you should be worried about having one as well. The vast majority of cardiovascular disease is driven by modifiable risk factors that most of us know about such as a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, hypertension, diabetes, cholesterol, obesity and diet. We know much more now about how lifestyle factors play a role in the acceleration of atherosclerosis (the buildup of plaque in arteries).The genetics of coronary artery disease is very complex and coronary artery disease in and of itself is extremely common. Simply put, just because your relatives have had heart disease in their later years (age 55+ for men and 65+ for females), this does not infer that you are at high risk yourself.
  2. Not all coronary artery disease is controllable. It’s not uncommon to see patients that have active, healthy lifestyles with no identifiable risk factors who are still diagnosed with heart disease.
  3. Not all cardiac disease presents with symptoms (although the vast majority of patients I see do). It has happened where I find a problem with a patient’s heart, and they find it hard to believe because they don’t have symptoms. It would make my job much easier if all patients who have a problem had symptoms.

Q: What’s the most important thing you want people to know about heart health?
The vast majority of cardiac conditions are preventable, or I would say can be delayed with a healthy diet and exercise.