heart conditions

How the “Superwoman” Syndrome Impacts Heart Health

superwoman4Are you a woman who tries to do it all? Many women are busier than ever these days juggling their careers, families, children, household duties, social lives and other obligations. When we can’t do it all, many of us feel guilty that we are unable to achieve perfection and balance in our lives. At the times we are most stressed, many of us make unhealthy choices, such as leaving exercise out of our daily routine, eating unhealthy foods and not getting enough rest. Unfortunately, this “superwoman” syndrome can lead to higher blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, higher cholesterol, cancer and importantly, heart disease, which is the number one killer of women in this country.

Heart disease may be prevented and is potentially reversible in many cases, so it’s important to learn how to make the best choices for our future health.

1. Realize that it is ok to not be perfect all the time. You are not alone — ask any other woman, and most likely you will learn that she is experiencing some of the same struggles as you. When you can’t be perfect, learn to laugh through the chaos.

2. Learn stress-relieving techniques. Determine the avenue for stress relief that works best for you. For some people it is going out for a run or scheduling a girls’ night, while others may prefer some time alone. Determine which activities make you happiest and make sure to work some of these into your schedule.

3. Eat healthy foods. Food choices can dramatically impact the way you feel. Make sure to balance protein, carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, and good fats in each meal so that your body has the energy it needs to make it through the toughest days.

4. Rest. Make sure to get six to eight hours of rest each night. Although it may be hard to pack this much rest into the day with your hectic schedule, try to rest as much as possible so you are alert and more productive. When you are rested, you can accomplish more, and you feel better overall.

5. Exercise. Try to work exercise into your daily routine. Exercise has been proven to increase energy levels, lower stress and improve mood. If you don’t have time to go out for a morning run, walk up stairs, park at the back of the parking lot, do squats at your desk while on a teleconference or lift hand weights while you are waiting for your child to get ready for school.

All of the recommendations above do not have to be completed at once — at first, try taking small steps toward improving your health. If you have a high-stress lifestyle and think you may be at risk for heart disease, schedule a comprehensive cardiovascular screening at the Emory Women’s Heart Center. Emory Women’s Heart Center nurse practitioners may be able to help you craft a plan to help you reduce stress and reduce your risk of developing heart disease.

screening-bar

Farheen Shirazi, MDAbout Farheen Shirazi, MD

Farheen Shirazi, MD, is an assistant professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Shirazi completed medical school at Morehouse School of Medicine before completing her internship at New York University, her residency at Stanford University and her fellowship at Emory University. She is passionate about teaching patients how to reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke. Her practice encompasses the scope of general cardiology, with a focus on cardiovascular disease prevention and women’s health.

Dr. Shirazi has published in the area of preventive cardiology and is currently working on literature in the field of women’s cardiovascular health.

Dr. Shirazi is board certified in internal medicine and cardiology. She is a member of several professional organizations, including the American Heart Association, the American College of Physicians, the American Medical Association and the American College of Cardiology.

Dr. Shirazi sees patients at the Emory Heart & Vascular Center at East Cobb, as well as the Emory Heart & Vascular Center at 1365 Clifton Road.

She enjoys drawing, painting and reading classical literature in her spare time.

About the Emory Women’s Heart Center

The Emory Women’s Heart Center is a unique program dedicated to screening for, preventing and treating heart disease in women. The Center, led by nationally renowned cardiologist Gina Lundberg, MD, provides comprehensive cardiac risk assessments and screenings for patients at risk for heart disease, as well as a full range of treatment options for women already diagnosed with heart disease. Find out if you are at risk for heart disease by scheduling your comprehensive cardiac screening. Call 404-778-7777.

Related Links

Quiz: Are You at Risk for Heart Disease?

Stress & Heart Disease Chat With Dr. Parashar

Keep Your Heart Healthy – Get Active!

Signs That You May Need a Cardiovascular Screening

Make a Healthy Nutrition New Year’s Resolution You Will Keep All Year Long!

Simple Test Can Help Predict Future Risk for Heart Attacks

New research indicates that a blood test that is relatively simple can predict a patient’s risk of suffering a future heart attack. Physicians can determine what patients need more aggressive testing and treatment as well as those who are low – risk patients so they can avoid unnecessary tests. Before this research was completed it was not possible to differentiate a patient with heart disease who was at risk for a future heart attack versus a patient who was not likely to suffer future cardiac events. Therefore, cardiologists are now able to quickly treat the at risk patients and monitor those at lower risk.

Emory cardiologist Arshed Quyyumi, MD and Stephen E. Epstien, MD of MedStar Heart Institute are the senior authors of this research. During the research they studied over 3400 cardiology patients who had confirmed coronary artery disease or suspected disease. Each patient was followed for over 2 years.

Read the full news article and more about the new findings that were published in the Journal of American College of Cardiology.

About Arshed Quyyumi, MD

Dr. Quyyumi is a Professor, Division of Cardiology, Emory University School of Medicine, Co-Director, Emory Clinical Cardiovascular Research Institute (ECCRI)

Dr. Arshed A. Quyyumi has been involved in clinical translational research in cardiovascular diseases for over 25 years. Dr. Quyyumi received his undergraduate degree in Pharmacology and medical degree from the University of London, England. He completed his residency at Guy’s and Royal Free Hospitals in London, and cardiology fellowships at National Heart Hospital, London; Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston; and the National Institutes of Health. After completion of his residency and fellowship, he served in several capacities in the Cardiology Branch of National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, NIH in Bethesda, MD, including Senior Investigator and Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory. In 2001 he was appointed Professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiology at Emory University School of Medicine, and in 2010 he was named Co-Director of the Emory Clinical Cardiovascular Research Institute (ECCRI). Since 2005, Dr. Quyyumi has been awarded more than $9 million in research funding. He serves on the Editorial Boards of several national journals, is a member on several Scientific Advisory Boards, and is a reviewer for the NIH-NHLBI Study Sections. Dr. Quyyumi has authored more than 180 peer-reviewed publications and has been an invited speaker and session chair at numerous National and International scientific meetings and conferences.

Dr. Quyyumi’s research focus includes vascular biology, angiogenesis, progenitor cell biology, mechanisms of myocardial ischemia, and the role of genetic and environmental risks on vascular disease. Other interests have spanned the fields of personalized medicine and disparities in cardiovascular diseases. During his academic career, Dr. Quyyumi has carried out more than 50 NIH, industry-funded, or investigator-initiated projects, including numerous clinical trials.

Related Resources

Welcoming New Medical Director of the Saint Joseph’s Hospital Heart Failure Clinic

markham-4web

Dr. David Markham, MD, MSc

Emory Center for Heart Failure and Transplantation and Saint Joseph’s Hospital are pleased to welcome David Markham, MD, MSc, to the team as the medical director of the Heart Failure Clinic at Saint Joseph’s Hospital.

Markham is an experienced heart failure and transplant cardiologist and has performed groundbreaking work in the area of assist device physiology.

“I’m excited that Dr. Markham will be leading heart failure services and our partnership with Saint Joseph’s,” says Andrew Smith, MD, director of the Center for Heart Failure and Transplantation and chief of cardiology at Emory University Hospital. “He will continue the progress we’ve already made over the past few months with the Advanced Heart Failure Network and the consolidation of services for network patients at Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown and Saint Joseph’s Hospital. These steps benefit our patients and enhance the services we offer.”

Markham received his undergraduate and medical degrees from Emory in 1991 and 1995, respectively and is a native of Marietta, GA. He completed an internship and residency at the University of Virginia, a post-doctoral fellowship in clinical and molecular cardiology at the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, and a fellowship in cardiology with advanced training in heart failure and cardiac transplantation at Duke University Medical Center.

Before his return to Emory, Markham was medical director of the Heart Failure Clinic at Parkland Memorial Hospital and associate director of heart failure, assist devices and cardiac transplantation at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

About the Emory and Saint Joseph’s Center for Advanced Heart Failure

The Advanced Heart Failure Network is an enhanced cardiac collaboration that includes expert care from subspecialists at Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown and Saint Joseph’s Hospital of Atlanta. For over 20 years Emory Healthcare and Saint Joseph’s Hospital have had the largest advanced heart failure programs in Georgia. The new collaboration will focus on meeting the needs of patients and their families dealing with heart failure. Patients in need of advanced heart failure management, medical and surgical management of other heart conditions and related therapies, may now access treatment at any of the three facilities.

Related Resources

Heart Disease is the Number One Killer of Women – Take Action Now to Avoid Being a Statistic!

Many people consider heart disease to be a predominantly male-oriented condition. However, heart disease is the number one killer in women and affects one out of every three in the United States, according to the American Heart Association. Heart disease occurs when fatty build-up in your coronary arteries, called plaque, prevents blood flow that’s needed to provide oxygen to your heart.  When the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced, or completely cut off, a heart attack occurs.

“The scary thing is that heart attacks in females are more likely to be fatal than in men,” explains Farheen Shirazi, Cardiologist at the Emory Heart & Vascular Center at Johns Creek. “Far too often, women ignore the warning signs of a heart attack and do not seek immediate medical attention. As time elapses, the muscles of the heart weaken, causing severe or life-threatening damage.”

Thankfully the awareness about heart disease continues to be on the rise. “The most important weapon against heart disease is awareness. Women need to research their family history and take time to educate themselves on not only the risk factors and symptoms of heart disease, but preventive medicine as well.”

How can you educate yourself? Join Dr. Shirazi on Tuesday, April 9 for an online web chat on women and heart disease. She will be available to answer your questions such as: what women can do to prevent heart disease, the importance of getting treatment right away and the research underway to combat heart disease in women.


 About Dr. Farheen Shirazi

Farheen Shirazi, MD is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine and a cardiologist at the Emory Heart & Vascular Center.  She specializes in preventive cardiology and heart disease in women.  Dr. Shirazi completed medical school at Morehouse School of Medicine, her Internship at New York University School of Medicine, her residency at Stanford Hospital and her Fellowship at Emory University School of Medicine.  Dr. Shirazi has been practicing at Emory since 2012 and primarily sees patients at Emory Heart & Vascular Center at Emory Johns Creek Hospital and Emory Heart & Vascular Center at Cumming She is passionate about educating women about how to prevent heart disease.

Related Links

Happy Valentine’s Day: Hope For the Broken Hearted

Heartbreak, heartache, and heart broken are not words you would typically associate with the day of love (Valentine’s Day)…Or are they?

When February rolls around each year, we’re bombarded with messages and sentiments of love.  Couples, families and friends begin to plan for Valentine’s Day, the day of love and dinner reservations are made, gifts are purchased, cards are written, and for those that are really lucky, the decadence of chocolate awaits. For some of us though, Valentine’s Day can be difficult if that special someone is no longer around. The overwhelming symbolism of love may cause them to reminisce and feel a deep pain. We know this pain, usually felt in the heart, as a broken heart, but in the medical world this condition (yes, it’s a real medical condition) is known as acute stress cardiomyopathy.

Acute stress cardiomyopathy or “broken heart syndrome” is a relatively temporary heart condition brought on by stressful situations, such as a death of a loved one, or the complete shock of an unexpected break up. The syndrome can lead to congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, and potentially life-threatening heart rhythm abnormalities.

It’s been reported that patients, mostly women, have gone to the emergency room due to classic heart attack symptoms caused by the shock,but when doctors performed diagnostic tests, such as an electrocardiogram, the results tended to look very different from regular heart attack EKGs. Furthermore, subsequent tests showed that the heart tissue was not damaged at all.

Luckily, the symptoms of broken heart syndrome are treatable and the condition usually reverses itself in a matter of time. So if you’ve lost a love one or experienced a break up recently, although Valentine’s Day may be more difficult than most days, fear not–the once a year holiday and the detriment of loneliness will pass. Perhaps take the holiday as an opportunity to do something healthy for yourself. Relax, or knock a few things off your to-do list, try out a new recipe or craft, or even use the holiday as an opportunity to remind a friend how much they mean to you.

Tell us, have you ever experienced the broken heart syndrome? If so, how’d you get through it?

Related Resources

Sudden Cardiac Arrest in Young Athletes

Cardiac arrest, once thought to be rare in young athletes, is becoming increasingly prevalent.  According to some experts, a high school student dies of cardiac arrest as often as every three days. A young person’s cardiac arrest could stem from a structural defect in the heart, or a problem with its electrical circuitry. But the most frequent cause of cardiac arrest among young athletes—making up nearly 40 percent of all cases— is the Hypertrophic Cadriomyopathy (HCM) which is a thickening of the heart muscle.

Fortunately, there are warning signs of both hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and cardiac arrest. To ensure good health during healthy competition among young athletes, parents and guardians need to be aware of the symptoms of both.

Join Emory Heart & Vascular Center cardiologist and director of the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy clinic, B. Robinson Williams III, MD  onThursday, August 9, 2012 at 12:30 p.m. for an interactive online Q & A web chat on the topic of sudden cardiac arrest in young athletes. Dr. Williams will be available to answer questions and discuss various topics about cardiac arrest in young athletes including causes, symptoms, and how to quickly treat, if it occurs.

You can register online for the live chat today!

Related Resources

Understanding Cardiac Arrest in Athletes Such as Fabrice Muamba

Fabrice Muamba

Source: CNN

Emory Heart & Vascular Center cardiologist Chandan Devireddy, MD recently sat down with the team at CNN to discuss what likely happened to English soccer player, Fabrice Muamba, when he collapsed from sudden cardiac arrest during a game earlier this month.

In the CNN interview, Dr. Devireddy also the cautions and guidelines athletes need to take to diagnose and prevent sudden cardiac death. To get Dr. Devireddy’s full take on cardiac arrest and athletes, check out his interview with CNN here.

Emory’s Heart & Vascular Center is consistently recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top heart health centers in the nation. The Emory Heart & Vascular Center offers services that cover the entire continuum of care, from prevention and early detection to the latest in cardiovascular treatment. In fact, Emory has one of the few dedicated hypertrophic cardiomyopathy clinics (HCM) in the US. Emory’s specialized HCM center offers comprehensive care (surgery, interventional cardiology, genetic testing, etc.), as well as greater experience and expertise.

Related Resources:

Patient Story: Cardiac Robotics as an Alternative to Open Heart Surgery

Barry Chaney is an Emory Heart & Vascular Center patient and Emory Healthcare employee who after having chest pains while working out was told he had to have cardiac bypass surgery to relieve blockages in his heart.

Barry chose the robotic approach to surgery as opposed to traditional cardiac open heart surgery because of the less invasive nature and faster recovery time associated with robotic surgery.  Barry returned to work after 3 weeks and is now back to living an active life! Learn more about cardiac robotic surgery and Barry’s experience with the procedure by watching his amazing story video story below:

Related Resources:

Lone Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib) – Takeaways from our Heart to Heart

Lone Atrial FibrillationThank you for those who were able to participate in the Emory Heart & Vascular Center Live Chat on Arrhythmias last week! You all had great questions and highly engaged. If you could not join me, you can view the Arrhythmia chat transcript here. We covered a lot of different topics. Please feel free to use the comments below to let us know if you have other heart and vascular topics you would like to cover in future live chats, and we will see if we can organize!

During the chat, there were questions I did not have time to answer. Specifically, I told attendees that I’d be posting a follow up blog on Lone Atrial Fibrillation, a less discussed type of arrhythmia that I got some good questions around.

What is Lone Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib)?

Lone Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib) is atrial fibrillation seen in patients younger than 60 years with no underlying structural heart disease.  It may be caused by a specific trigger or could occur without any trigger.

What are the possible triggers for Lone Atrial Fibrillation?

Lone A-Fib can be triggered by:

  • Emotional or work related stress
  • Physical Overexertion
  • Alcohol use or overuse
  • Caffeine consumption
  • Infection
  • Dehydration
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Drugs (cocaine, amphetamines, etc)
  • Hypoglycemia

Unfortunately, in the majority of cases of Lone Atrial Fibrillation occur without any triggers. It is probably difficult to avoid all the potential triggers for Lone A-Fib.  But when a trigger exists, it is  typically specific to each individual.  There is no consistent way to safely and effectively manage Lone A-Fib episodes, so I recommend you consult your cardiologist to ensure you are taking the most appropriate steps for your particular case.

You can visit our website to learn more about Emory’s Arrhythmia Program.

Dr. Mikhael El-ChamiAbout Mikhael El-Chami, MD
Dr. El-Chami completed his residency at Emory in 2003 and he was nominated for a chief residency year at Emory in 2004. His training in cardiology and electrophysiology also was completed at Emory. His areas of clinical interest include: cardiac arrhythmia ablation, cardiac resynchronization therapy and prevention of sudden cardiac death. Dr. El-Chami holds organizational leadership memberships with the American College of Cardiology and the Heart Rhythm Society. He speaks Arabic and French fluently.

Surviving an Aortic Dissection: A Patient Survivor’s Story

Karthik Kasirajan, MD

Karthik Kasirajan, MD

In his last blog post, Dr. Veeraswamy outlined what aortic dissection is, what the symptoms are and what you can do to prevent it. Although it is best to detect aortic dissections early, it is possible to survive one. Emory Healthcare patient, Gene Winfrey is a living example. At another local hospital Gene was told he wouldn’t survive surgery to repair the aortic dissection. But Gene is tenacious and decided to schedule an appointment at Emory and he is glad he did. Gene not only survived surgery he is thriving and traveling all over the country as an evangelist. Gene says, “I tell people everywhere I go about Emory and about what happened to me. I am living proof about what happened.”

As mentioned in the last aortic dissection blog, men ages 60 – 70 are most likely to have an aortic dissection and it is relatively uncommon but it is the most common aortic emergency we see at the Emory Heart & Vascular Center. Most patients come in urgently with severe chest or abdominal pain. If not recognized and treated immediately, the tear will go through blood vessel and it is unlikely the patient will survive.

Gene knew he needed help and needed it quickly. We explained to him that if the outer layer of the aorta burst, he would have little chance of living through the dissection. We were adamant that the stent needed to be put in right away.

Luckily for Gene, treatments have changed from the past so he was a candidate for a more minimally invasive method to treat the dissection called endostents. In the past the only way to treat an aortic dissection was through open surgery. The patient benefits from the less invasive ways of performing surgery and is typically able to get home more quickly and return to work sooner with limited complications. Emory is unique in that we have access to devices that are not yet on the market.

Gene had run the Peachtree Road Race 27 straight times before this and wanted to make sure he could maintain his active lifestyle that included riding horses, playing golf and playing tennis.  I advised Gene that he could do whatever he feels like doing, and he is doing just that. He is one of the most active 88-year-old persons  I have ever met!!

Gene summarizes his experience at Emory as follows “They (the other hospital) said we can’t do it. You can’t live through it. I came here and Dr. K said you can. I am 88 years old and still living. I advise anyone to come to Emory, I think it is the greatest in the world.”

Check out our video about Gene and his story below, or visit our website to learn more about Aortic Dissection & Gene’s story:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqN1YmWCJYo

About Karthik Kasirajan, MD:
Dr. Kasirajan specializes in surgery and vascular surgery, and has been practicing at Emory since 2003. Several of his areas of interest include peripheral arterial disease, endovascular surgery, abdominal and aortic aneurysm, vascular surgery, thrombotic disease, and stroke. Dr. Kasirajan holds many organizational leadership memberships, including the European Society for Vascular Surgery, International College of Surgeons, and the Peripheral Vascular Surgical Society, and is widely published in publications such as the Journal of Endovascular Therapy and the Journal of Vascular Surgery.