VNA Answer Nurse: Heart Health

Paula Thibideau is a Licensed Practical Nurse with the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) and coordinates all aspects of community wellness for the non-profit home healthcare agency.

February is American Heart Month. According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women; however, heart disease can be prevented and managed. Here are some answers to common questions related to heart health and heart disease.

Q: Is it possible to prevent a heart attack?

A: There are things you can do to lower your risk. Risk factors include, smoking, consuming alcoholic beverages, behaviors and genetics. If you smoke, quit. Limit alcoholic consumption. Eat a healthy diet with lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meat and fish. Avoid processed meats and foods with a high salt and/or sugar content. Visit the American Heart Association for more information about heart health at Always check with your doctor first before starting a new exercise routine or dietary regimen.

Q: Is heart disease hereditary?

A: Individuals who have ancestors with conditions such as high cholesterol, history of heart attack, stroke, unexplained seizures, irregular heart rhythms or congenital heart disease, may be predisposed. Genetic testing and screening help identify risk factors. Though heart disease has no cure, seeing a cardiologist, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and staying informed through education and research can be key factors to living well.

Q: What is the recovery like for someone who’s had a heart attack?

A: Cardiac rehabilitation is an important program for anyone recovering from a heart attack, heart failure, or other heart problem that required surgery or medical care. Cardiac rehabilitation is a supervised program that includes:

  • Physician directed physical activity
  • Education for nutrition and taking medicine as prescribed
  • For smokers, how to quit
  • Counseling for improved mental health

Q: Where can you find heart healthy recipes?

A: The best place to start is with your doctor who may be able to refer you to a nutritionist. For

other sources, the Mayo Clinic has a list of heart healthy recipes from appetizers to main entrees. You can search online for heart healthy meals or use familiar sites such as Pinterest. As always, check with your doctor before enjoying culinary delights to ensure what you’ve chosen meets your health and wellness needs.

This information is for educational purposes. Please consult your physician for any medical issues. The Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) is committed to bringing trusted and quality private and home health care to Brevard County patients from Titusville to Barefoot Bay.


For more information about VNA services, call 321-752-7550 or visit