About Amy Umble:
Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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Words of advice from a heart man

As an interventional cardiologist, Dr. Thomas Martyak has a front-row seat on the damage done by heart disease.

Dr. Thomas Martyak

Martyak works in the cardiac catheterization lab, either at Mary Washington Hospital or Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center, clearing blocked arteries and checking for heart damage. He is witness to the fact that heart disease is the nation’s leading killer.

Yet, as he told an audience last week at the Spotsylvania hospital, there are several ways to avoid heart damage. The items are familiar, he said, but worth repeating:

* Avoid stress, diabetes and high blood pressure.

* Eat right and exercise.

* Don’t smoke.

But if you do need his care, Martyak said, don’t delay.

“If you’re having bad chest pain or severe shortness of breath, the key is get in early,” he said. “The biggest predictor to outcomes and long-term longevity is how strong the heart is. If we can keep the heart functioning strong, the better we are.”