• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Small adjustments, big improvements in women's heart health: doctors

February 26, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Feeling tired, stressed out, short of breath, women often disregard some very telling symptoms because there's just so much to do. But improving your heart health doesn't take much. Doctors say that for women, small adjustments can change their hearts.

John and Purita Pulvino have a rare love story. Both had been married to other people for 37 years. Then both of their spouses died from cancer. Purita, 72, says 81-year-old John was the answer to her prayers.

That attraction eventually led to their wedding day. But Purita came very close to never seeing their first anniversary.

"She was overweight, she had pains in her chest, she loved to eat, she was getting no exercise," said John.

So John bought his new bride a $50 screening offered at St. Mary Medical Center's Women's Heart Center.

When Purita visited the center, doctors say she was a heart attack waiting to happen. She had a blood pressure of 200 over 100, and they almost admitted her to the hospital.

Cardiologist Dr. Nik Kapoor told Purita to cut back on salt, soy sauce, fat, sugar and white rice and keep meals smaller and more frequent. She's also eating eat more fish, fruit, vegetables and healthy grains.

"I did my best to follow the advice of the doctor and I exercise daily 20 to 30 minutes a day," said Purita.

In four months, she dropped 15 pounds. Studies show losing just four to six pounds can drop your blood pressure three to eight points. It can be more significant in women.

"Losing five pounds for a woman would be a greater proportion of her body weight than it might be for a man," said Kapoor.

Today, Purita's blood pressure is down, at 110 over 70. Now she and John are looking forward to a long life together.

"I'm so happy, I'm really so happy for the improvement I have in my life now," said Purita.

Dr. Kapoor says studies show diet and exercise can be far more effective in treating heart disease than medication. He says Purita has added decades to her life.

Load Comments