Interventional cardiologist at Austin Heart Leander shares top tips for a healthy heart

With 14 full-time offices and 14 outreach clinics, Austin Heart is the largest provider of cardiovascular care in central Texas. While not everyone needs regular cardiologist visits, it’s important to know what symptoms should prompt screening — and how to maintain a healthy heart and avoid disease.

Since moving to Austin about 10 years ago, interventional cardiologist Dr. Christopher McCoy has worked at several medical organizations across the city – which is why he can confidently call Austin Heart the most efficient and well-run cardiology clinic in the area.

“As far as doctors working together as a team, we do the best job here,” said Dr. McCoy. “There are different specialists all working together and when there are different needs we are pretty good at communicating and getting people to the doctor who has the most expertise in that area.”

When it comes to determining the right time to book a cardiology appointment, Dr. McCoy that any new symptoms are an indication to get tested and that coronary calcium is a commonly recommended test for people over 40.

“Anything new, especially related to chest pain, shortness of breath, feeling light-headed or dizzy, rapid heartbeat or fainting, that’s of greatest concern,” said Dr. McCoy.

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Patients with poor heart health or a family history of heart disease are also encouraged to have regular screening and evaluations, as genetics is one of the variables that play a role in heart health.

“It depends on risk factors; Certainly, new symptoms should prompt visits,” said Dr. McCoy. “If people are over 40 and have risk factors, particularly related to family history or a range of comorbidities, it is certainly not unreasonable to be evaluated by a cardiologist as there are tests that we can recommend for them.”

When a new patient comes to the Austin Heart for a screening and exam, cardiologists ask questions about their medical history and listen to any active complaints. Next, blood pressure is checked and usually an EKG is started to see if additional tests are needed.

“We’re going to talk about signs and symptoms that should be relevant to heart disease, what to recognize when something shows up, and what to do if you have specific symptoms,” said Dr. McCoy.

according to dr McCoy, one way to avoid heart disease is to take care of your body through exercise. The American Heart Association recommends exercising 30 minutes five days a week, but for those who aren’t used to exercising daily, according to Dr. McCoy an important step to be examined by a doctor first.

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“If you have an underlying medical condition and you start exercising, it could trigger an event… Start in moderation at first and build up gradually,” said Dr. McCoy. “Any activity is better than no activity, and a combination of things is probably the most beneficial.”

In terms of diet, Dr. McCoy that there isn’t necessarily an absolute recommendation for one diet over the other. However, poor nutrition puts a strain on the heart and increases the risk of developing atherosclerosis, which is a buildup of fats, cholesterol, and other substances in and around the walls of arteries.

“Sometimes eat what you want, but mostly you [should] Try to eat things that you know are healthy,” said Dr. McCoy. “That’s usually fresh fruit, baked chicken or fish versus fried food and less processed foods and less sugar.”

Stress management is also an essential part of heart health. Coping with stress can be difficult, but Dr. McCoy said that getting a better night’s sleep and regular exercise are some of the best ways to reduce stress.

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“You’re much better at managing stress if you get a good night’s sleep,” said Dr. McCoy. “And when you exercise, I think exercise is a healthy way to reduce stress and you achieve two goals.”

While exercise, diet, and stress management are all important factors in heart health, said Dr. McCoy that the combination of all three and a balanced lifestyle is the blueprint for overall heart health.

“Lifestyle plays a big part in how long you will live and the likelihood that you will have heart disease. It’s just the end result,” said Dr. McCoy. “There’s medicine, there’s testing, there’s other things – but certainly lifestyle is key to all of this.”

Want to know more about Austin Heart? Visit to see his locations and learn more about his doctors and the diseases they treat.

The above story was produced by the Community Impact storytelling team using information provided solely by the local business as part of purchasing “sponsored content” through our advertising team. Our integrity promise to our readers is to clearly label all CI Storytelling posts so that they are separate from the content that has been determined, researched and written by our journalism department.

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