**SIDE BAR TO HEART STORY** Cleveland Clinic doctor urges students to start heart health preparation early

Dr. Christine Jellis, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, urges college students to begin their heart health journey now. While people over the age of 50 have the highest risk for heart disease, Jellis said prevention should start at a young age.

She strongly suggests students learn their medical history and see a general physician on a regular basis. Being aware of your cardiac history and genetics could play a very important role in identifying symptoms early on, Jellis said.

“It is unusual to see college students … with symptoms for heart disease,” Jellis said. “However, if we were to screen college students we would see a lot of symptoms present themselves that lead to the development of heart disease.”

Jellis said heart disease is something that everyone should be concerned about. The narrowing of heart arteries can start at a young age, so it is important to be able to identify symptoms and unhealthy habits before they develop into heart disease.

“Behaviors of college students can put them at risk for developing heart disease later on in life,” Jellis said. “It is important to live a healthy and well-balanced life now to prevent a problem later. There is a lot of good evidence showing that healthy eating and not doing drugs can help prevent heart disease.”

Jellis said it is easy when students are studying, taking exams and completing projects to forget to follow a healthy diet and exercise plan, but it’s important to remember the detrimental effects unhealthy habits and living a sedentary lifestyle can have later down the line.

“To help prevent developing heart disease, students should exercise at minimum (of) two-and-a-half hours a week of intense aerobic activity, monitor blood pressure and cholesterol, reduce saturated fats, eat more lean meats and start healthy habits,” she said.