Posted by Phoenix West Rotary "West Side Story"

Our speaker for the day was Dr. Andrew Atiemo an Interventional Cardiologist from Northern Arizona Healthcare in Flagstaff. He spoke to us via Zoom with technical assistance by Susan on the topic of Cardio-vascular Prevention and the COVID- 19 Pandemic.

Dr. Atiemo earned his medical degree from Harvard. He then trained in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and completed his cardiology train ing at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. He earned his bachelor’s degree in biological sciences at University of Maryland, in Baltimore.

His presentation was shock full of information, far too much to include in this newsletter. The editor has attempted to include some key details that may be useful to members in preventing cardiovascular disease. 

According to reports from Johns Hopkins,  as of 5/29/21 there  have been 169,781,239 cases of COVID-19 with 3,529,742 deaths worldwide while the      US reports 33,251,71 cases with 594,304 deaths, giving the US the unenviable position of being #1 in the world. Arizona reports 879,909 with 17,609 cases as of the end of May.

Dr. Artiemo shared a case study that highlighted various cardiovascular complications of COVIDI-19 along with risk factors for severe COVID-19 infections which include advanced age, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, pre-existing cardiovascular disease and race with a devastating impact particularly on African Americans.

We learned that there are both good and bad   consequences associated with quarantine and isolation. While these measures are efficient in reducing the spread of infection, they are also associated with increased anxiety, anger and stress which lead to a more unhealthy life style, having a negative impact on overall health, including cardiovascular health.


He shared the ABCs approach to better cardiovascular health (actually A to E) including the effects of aspirin, blood pressure, cholesterol, cigarettes, diet, exercise/stress reduction, emotions. To touch on just a few of the highlights he shared:

Aspirin—Low-dose aspirin is now reserved for those at high risk of cardiovascular disease.

Blood Pressure—need to keep it under control due to serious complications of hypertension including damage to major organs— brain, heart, eyes, kidneys. We know that mortality risk rises as BP increases. Weight loss, healthy diet, reduced salt, increased potassium, increased physical activity and only moderate use of alcohol are important non-pharmacological interventions we should consider. We should maintain BP below 130/80

Cigarettes—we were reminded that smoking can cause chronic lung disease, various cancers including of the lung, mouth, throat and bladder, coronary artery disease and stroke. Bottom line, if you are a smoker, it is important to QUIT. He elaborated on the health benefits of quitting smoking including im proved lung functioning within just three months of quitting. After one year, cardiovascular risk is reduced by 50% and after  ten years, coronary heart disease risk is similar to those who have never smoked.

Diet—While there are all types of diets including Keto, Paleo, vegetarian, vegan and Mediterranean, the cardiologist’s diet, he says is “If it tastes good, spit it out!” Take note of the healthy eating plate chart with an emphasis on vegetables, fruits, nuts.

Exercise—US adults spend more than 7 hours a day on average in sedentary activities. We need to replace this sedentary time with moderate to vigorous activities.

Emotions—Our emotions –stress, anger, pain or trauma can actually cause cardiovascular problems including Broken Heart Syndrome. Non-pharmacological Tools such as yoga, meditation, re- laxation therapy, hypnosis, exercise and diet can actually improve cardiac health.

Dr. Atiemo, talked about how Technology (E-Health) can be helpful in maintaining good health. Examples include Telemedicine (Zoom), member that HDL is “good” cholesterol” and LDL is “bad” cholesterol. We need to keep bad cholesterol under 100 or lower—Numbers are important, Dr. Atiemo says.