Midlands Cares: Heart Health and protecting our most important organ

Tyler Ryan learns about the importance of protecting your heart from MUSC Dr. Katrina Bidwell


COLUMBIA SC (WOLO) – February is Heart Month, and although these 28 days are specifically set aside to awareness and education, protecting the blood pumper should be top of mind all year.  There is an easy case to be made that the heart is probably our most vital piece of hardware.  In fact, MUSC Heart and Vascular Cardiologist Doctor Katrina Bidwell says “the heart works for you 24 hours a day, and it only rests between beats, pumping blood and oxygen to the rest of your body.”

According to the CDC, there are over six million Americans who have some form of heart disease.  That leads to the obvious question, what does that mean?  Dr. Bidwell says that the “simple answer is that the heart is not meeting the needs of your body.”  She goes on to point out that heart disease is also a very “umbrella term” that can mean anything from something you are born with, citing valve disease, to lifestyle choices that we make in life.

Dr. Bidwell identifies high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking obesity, and having a sedentary lifestyle can all play factors.  She further notes that being sedentary or sitting most of the day is not referred to as the “new smoking,” because of the impact it can have on overall health.

She says that some signs that there may be a problem include shortness of breath, swelling in your belly or legs, and waking up in the middle of the night short of breath, reminding people to seek medical advise.

When it comes to cardiac events, some of the classic signs of a heart attack are a sudden severe chest pain and pain radiating down your arms.  When it comes to strokes, it can include a sudden inability to speak, and loss of the use of your arms and legs.  In either of this cases, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Dr. Bidwell says that it is important to have a partnership with your doctors, either your family doctor, or your specialists.  She also stresses the importance of “knowing your numbers” which includes your blood pressure, cholesterol, your weight, and of course, check with your parents to find out about any family conditions.

Despite the growing number of people who are dealing with some form of heart disease, the Doctor remains optimistic.  “I tell my patients all the time, there has never been a better period in time than 2023 to have any of these diseases because we have so many options available, whether it’s medications or procedures that can help you live longer and better and that’s why I love this field so much because we are able to partner With our patients to help improve both the quality and quantity of their lives, but you gotta (sic) come see us.”

If  you would like to learn more about your heart, including ways to protect it, warning signs, or anything realated to your heart, check out www.musc.org.



Tyler Ryan is an award winning television and radio personality, weather forecaster, writer, investigative journalist, and professional emcee.  He appears daily on ABC Columbia’s Good Morning Columbia, as well as hosting the syndicated radio program Carolina Cares on the South Carolina Radio Network, and the iHeart Radio Network.  Tyler also regularly appears as a criminal expert and journalist on regional and national crime based programs like Snapped and Killer Couples.  You can contact him directly via EMAIL Or on the socials: Tyler’s Instagram  // Tyler’s Facebook

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