heart conditions

Your Heart Questions Answered by the Women’s Heart Center – pt 2

Heart Failure Live Chat 7/25/17Thank you for your patience and for your participation in American Heart Month! We received so many great questions, it took us a while to get through them all. We hope you find our Part 2 answers helpful. Thank you to our Emory Women’s Heart Center experts  Dr. Alexis CutchinsDr. M Carolina GongoraDr. Gina LundbergDr. Susmita Parashar, and Stacy Jaskwhich for answering these submitted questions.

Review Part 1 questions and answers here!

What are the signs of heart disease? Are there any silent signs? 
Signs of heart disease may include the ones we would typically think about:

  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • palpitations

Some other signs of heart disease that may not be as distinguishable (or considered silent as they are not recognized as a heart problem) could be:

  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • sweating or flushing
  • neck pain
  • jaw pain
  • back pain
  • general fatigue

All symptoms are more suggestive of heart disease when they occur with exertional activity or are triggered by emotional stress.  Some symptoms occur over time and people acclimate to them or shrug them off as “being out of shape” or “going through menopause”.  Progressive symptoms, such as increased shortness of breath with walking up stairs, can be a worrisome change and you should definitely mention to your physician.

How do you know when you have heart disease? 
Bottom line is, you won’t know if you don’t look. Studies have shown that 2/3 of women have no previous symptoms prior to their heart attack. There are many types of heart problems that an individual could have such as an enlarged heart, electrical abnormalities of the heart (arrhythmias) or blood flow issues.  We usually think of heart disease as blood flow issues or blockages that might cause a heart attack. You will likely notice some signs or symptoms in this scenario, but the best way to know for sure is by having a screening or seeing a Cardiologist for testing. Common sense would tell us that the more risk factors that you have for heart disease, the higher the probability.

There are many screening tests which can be performed to give you a better idea of your cardiac status.  You can actually have heart disease for a long period of time prior to having an event.  If you have a strong family history of heart disease or multiple risk factors, it may be a good idea to have a Coronary Calcium Score.  This is a CT of your heart that identifies hard, calcified plaques in your heart arteries.  It really helps to determine if you have the disease and to quantify the amount of disease that is present.  The result will be given in an age-matched reference so that you can see how you are doing in comparison to other women/men in your same age group.  The more plaque you have, the more aggressive your treatment plan should be.  If you are having any type of symptoms, you should have diagnostic testing.  Most people start with a simple EKG, but a treadmill stress test is a better tool.  If the stress test is positive for EKG changes with exercise, further tests may be indicated.

What are the most common kinds of heart troubles? 
In a cardiology practice, we commonly see a multitude of heart problems, many of which are brought about by the risk factors such as:

  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • sleep apnea
  • being overweight
  • diabetes
  • depression
  • lifestyle choices

Think of your heart as a house with 3 basic responsibilities: pump, plumbing, and electricity.

  • You can have a pump issue in which your heart muscle is enlarged, thickened or damaged. Consequences of this can result in a condition called congestive heart failure.
  • You can have a plumbing issue in which you have plaque build up that eventually closes your arteries and prevents well-oxygenated blood from reaching your heart muscle. Consequences of this could lead cause a heart attack.
  • You can have an electrical issue in which your heart loses the ability to normally conduct impulses.  These can stem from the upper and lower chambers of the heart and some are more worrisome than others- the most common electrical problem that we see is Atrial fibrillation. Consequences of Atrial fibrillation can lead to blood clots or stroke when the heart beats irregularly and sets up the perfect scenario for a blood clot to form and then be lodged into the systemic circulation.

While all of these consequences seem very frightening, many can be avoided if we prevent risk factors from occurring by maintaining heart-healthy lifestyles in the first place.

By what percentage is the reduction of heart disease changed, as backed by scientific studies, when one makes positive changes.  
It is somewhat difficult to predict because it depends on different variables. Some risk factors are non-modifiable, such as genetics, age, gender, and race.  Of the modifiable risk factors, several studies have highlighted the critical importance of lifestyle modifications in heart disease prevention.  A Nurses’ Health Study demonstrated that women were able to reduce their risk of coronary events by >80% by not smoking, maintaining healthy body weight-BMI< 25, consuming a healthy diet, participating in moderate to vigorous exercise for 30 minutes a day, and consuming no more than a moderate amount of alcohol.

Another study named INTERHEART identified 9 easily measured risk factors (smoking, lipids, hypertension, DM, obesity, diet, physical activity, alcohol consumption, and psychosocial factors) that account for over 90% of the risk for acute heart attack.  This study also demonstrated that although the magnitude of the cardiovascular risks for men and women were similar, the impact of modifying the risks was greater in women.

What are some natural supplements that keep our hearts healthy?  
Heart health starts with exercise and a healthy diet.  The majority of the diet should come from vegetables, lean protein, low glycemic fruits, and some whole grains while limiting carbs and sugars.  Diet should consist of low sodium and high fiber.  It should include healthy fats such as nuts and olive oil.  Certain foods can be especially helpful for different cardiac problems.  For example, blueberries, leafy greens, seaweed, mushrooms, and celery have been shown to be beneficial in lowering blood pressure.

To further support your heart health, certain supplements may be helpful; however, these should always be recommended by a healthcare provider who has experience and training in the use of supplements. If you have a heart condition or are high risk for a heart attack, you must always follow your doctor’s advice before using any supplement.  Some supplements may interfere with blood thinners. Actually being tested for certain deficiencies prior to taking certain vitamins and minerals, may be the safest practice. It is way too risky to treat a serious health condition on your own with over-the-counter supplements. Some commonly used supplements for the heart are:

  • Omega 3 fish oil
  • flax seed
  • plant sterols
  • CoQ10 enzyme
  • Vitamin D
  • certain B Vitamins
  • Vitamin C
  • Zinc
  • Folate
  • Garlic
  • Magnesium
  • Turmeric

What are the best types of vegetables and fruits to eat when you have blood clots?  
If you have a blood clot, you are likely on a blood thinner.  If you are on Coumadin, you will have to be aware of the vegetables that contain Vitamin K as it acts as an antidote for Coumadin (blocking blood-thinning properties).  Most green, leafy vegetables contain Vitamin K.  This doesn’t mean that you should avoid these vegetables if, on Coumadin, you just have to eat them consistently in order to keep your blood levels of Coumadin therapeutic.  We currently have much better options for blood thinners though (Eliquis, Xarelto, Pradaxa) which work on a different bleeding pathway and don’t interfere with foods that we eat.

Many patients are prescribed an aspirin a day to reduce the risk of blood clotting. The component in aspirin that is responsible for reducing blood clotting risk is called salicylates. Salicylates can also be found in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables such as oranges, blackberries, blueberries, pineapple, plums, prunes, raisins, raspberries, strawberries, grapes, cranberries, tangerines, hot peppers, olives, radishes, and tomatoes.

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients that aid in the regulation of normal blood clotting. Most people believe that in order to receive omega-3 fatty acids, they must consume a high a diet that is high in fish. While fish is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, they can also be found in many vegetables including brussel sprouts, kale, spinach and salad greens.

Vitamin E is also capable of inhibiting platelets (the cells responsible for clotting) that works as a natural anticoagulant. Vitamin E can be found in spinach, broccoli, kiwifruit, mangos, and tomatoes.

Review Part 1 questions and answers here!

To learn more about Emory Healthcare’s Heart and Vascular Center, please visit: www.emoryhealthcare.org/heart

Emory Healthcare welcomes and encourages open discussions on all of Emory Healthcare’s social media sites. We look forward to any comments, stories, interactions, and experiences you want to share online. Before posting, please be mindful that Emory Healthcare’s social media sites are open to the public. DO NOT disclose any personal information that you do not want to be shared. By sending any content over the internet, you acknowledge that you assume full responsibility related to security, privacy, and confidentiality risks. The information presented here is NOT intended to replace a consultation with a qualified medical professional or take place of professional medical care. Due to a large number of questions we received, we are unable to answer all questions. The questions selected above are (in our opinion) of value to all readers.  

Hope For the Broken Hearted

Heartbreak, heartache, and heartbroken 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 breakup. 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 loved 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

Heart Failure Live Chat Transcript

Heart Failure Live Chat 7/25/17

Thank you to those of you who joined the Heart Failure Live Chat on 7/25/17 hosted by Dr. Divya Gupta from Emory’s Heart & Vascular Center. Dr. Gupta provided valuable insights into the causes of heart failure including contributing factors like heredity and medical conditions, treatment options and lifestyle changes. The live chat had a good turnout and the transcript is now available below.

Heart Failure Live Chat Transcript

 

Overview: If you or a family member has been diagnosed with heart failure you likely have many questions. Here’s your chance to ask an expert about living with heart failure, treatment options, second opinions, prevention; whatever’s on your mind. Join us on Tuesday, July 25 when Dr. Divya Gupta, a board certified heart failure cardiologist with the Emory Heart & Vascular Center, will answer all your questions.

12:01 P.M.
EmoryHealthcare: Hi everyone, please note that all questions are moderated before appearing in the stream, so you may not see yours appear right away, but we will do our best to answer all your questions today.

12:01 P.M.
EmoryHealthcare: We received some questions that were submitted in advance of the chat, so we’ll get started by answering a few of those first.

12:05 P.M.
EmoryHealthcare: Is a patient with pulmonary hypertension more likely to develop CHF than a patient a heart that is comprised?

12:05 P.M.
EmoryHealthcare: A patient with pulmonary hypertension is more likely to develop heart failure on the right side of the heart vs. left side of the heart. Heart failure on the right side is associated with swelling of the legs and abdomen which can cause physical limitations.

12:09 P.M.
EmoryHealthcare: Is heart failure hereditary?

12:09 P.M.
EmoryHealthcare: Yes, heart failure can be hereditary. Many times, we’re not able to figure out what the genetic alteration is that leads to it, but we do have evidence that it can run in families when looking at their family tree.  However, not all heart failure is heredity and different medical conditions can lead to heart failure. If there is a significant concern, genetic testing and counseling is recommended. With this data, the geneticist can identify the genetic alteration that runs in your family and preventative treat

12:12 P.M.
EmoryHealthcare: How safe is it to become pregnant with a leaky heart valve?

12:13 P.M.
EmoryHealthcare: The safety of becoming pregnant with a leaky heart valve depends on which valve and to what extent it is leaking. This would require close monitoring and consultation with cardiologist and high- risk obstetrician.

12:16 P.M.
EmoryHealthcare: We have a dedicated clinic for congenital heart conditions that specializes in treating patients with leaky heart valves, the Adult Congenital Heart Center. These physicians work closely with high-risk obstetricians within the Emory Healthcare system.  Please call HealthConnection to set up an appointment at 404­–778–7777.

12:19 P.M.
Guest5115: Are there differences in symptoms or treatment between heart failure caused by congenital heart defects and acquired heart failure?

12:20 P.M.
EmoryHealthcare: Heart failure is a clinical diagnosis and so the symptoms are similar in both populations. Typically, symptoms include tiredness, shortness of breath, issues with fluid retention.

12:21 P.M.
EmoryHealthcare: Another pre- chat question:  I was recently dx with left sided heart failure with an ejection fraction of 31- 40%.  I’ m on Coreg twice a day.  Is there anything else I need to know to help me improve my condition?  Also, I was working out before diagnosis.  I have literally stopped.  What type of exercise do you recommend?  And I Ian having a pulling sharp pain in the center of my chest.  Could that be relevant to my condition?  Work up show no cardiac relations.

12:25 P.M.
EmoryHealthcare: Coreg is an excellent medicine that has been shown to improve left side heart function, we typically increase the dose of this medicine so that a patient is taking 25– 50 mg twice a day, over several months. Also, we typically put patients on Lisinopril.

12:29 P.M.
EmoryHealthcare: Exercise is strongly recommended to help improve heart function as well.  Aerobic exercise is best, walking, running, biking or swimming are all acceptable forms of exercise. We don’t recommend heavy weight lifting and typically restrict weight lifting to no more than 50 pounds total.  When beginning an excise routine, start slow and increase as tolerated.  Make sure you listen to your body.  If you need to take a break and rest, that’s fine before starting again. The American Heart Association recommends 30 min

12:35 P.M.
EmoryHealthcare: There are two types of implantable devices often used in patients with low ejection fractions, defibrillator, and pacemaker. Anyone with an ejection fraction equal or less than 35% should be considered for a defibrillator, these devices monitor heart rhythm 24/ 7 and will function to save your life in the event of a life- threatening heart rhythm. Patients with low ejection fraction are at greater risk of having these life- threatening heart rhythms.

12:36 P.M.
EmoryHealthcare: Pacemakers are beneficial to some patients with low ejection fractions, the need for a pacemaker would be determined by your cardiologist. If they feel it would be beneficial, the pacemaker would help improve heart failure symptoms and help you live longer.

12:39 P.M.
Carol B.: My 86-yr. old Mom with a valve problem can barely stand without back pain and so tired?  Is this caused by lack of exercise or heart valve?

12:40 P.M.
EmoryHealthcare: The fatigue portion could be attributed to her valve problem, unfortunately, the valve issue could be preventing her from exercising which in turn may cause the back pain.  She would benefit from an evaluation of her valve and cardiac issues. You can make an appointment by calling HealthConnection at 404–778–7777.

12:43 P.M.
EmoryHealthcare: Is a BMT a good tool to diagnose CHF, versus lung disease?

12:44 P.M.
EmoryHealthcare: Yes. Another name for BMT is Cardiopulmonary Exercise Test. This is an excellent way to determine what is causing a patient to be tired and short of breath. It can not only help diagnose heart failure and lung disease but can also help determine if the lack of exercise is playing a role.

12:46 P.M.
EmoryHealthcare: These questions have been great! We have time for just one more question today. Any remaining questions will be answered by Dr. Gupta in a post- chat Q& A blog on http://advancingyourhealth.org

12:48 P.M.
EmoryHealthcare: My mom has congestive Heart Failure and needs the best heart doctor.

12:49 P.M.
EmoryHealthcare: Emory Heart & Vascular Center has many excellent physicians who are board certified in Advanced Heart Failure & Transplant Cardiology. Our nurses at HealthConnection can help you find the best physician for your Mom. They can be reached at 404–778–7777.

12:50 P.M.
EmoryHealthcare: Are there any other questions?

12:52 P.M.
EmoryHealthcare: That’ s all the time we have for today. Thanks so much for joining us! As we mentioned, we’ll follow up with a blog post to answer any questions we didn’t get a chance to address today. Thank you!


Want to Learn More?

At Emory Healthcare’s Heart & Vascular Center, your health is our priority. Our program is consistently recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top heart health centers in the nation.

or call 404-778-7777 to make an appointment.

 

 

Sudden Cardiac Death in Young Athletes

football250x250Sudden death in young people, often due to hidden heart defects or overlooked heart abnormalities, is rare. Of the 360,000 sudden cardiac arrests that occur in the United States each year outside of hospitals, very few occur in young people and only some of those young people die of sudden cardiac arrest. When these tragic sudden cardiac deaths do occur, it’s often during physical activity, such as participating in an athletic event or strenuous exercise.

Causes

The causes of sudden cardiac death in young people vary, but most of the time deaths are due to heart abnormalities, such as unrecognized inherited heart disease (example, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) and coronary artery abnormalities. Other causes include inherited heart rhythm disorders such as Long QT syndrome, Brugada syndrome, or other inherited cardiac “channelopathies”.

Additional etiologies include inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis), which can be caused by viruses and other illnesses. Sudden cardiac death can also occur as the result of a blunt blow to the chest, such as being hit by a baseball or hockey puck, at just the right time (commotion cordis). The blow to the chest can trigger ventricular fibrillation if the blow strikes at exactly the wrong time in the heart’s electrical cycle.

Don’t Ignore the Warning Signs

What can young athletes do to prevent a sudden cardiac event? In more than a third of these sudden cardiac deaths, there were warning signs that were not reported or taken seriously. In particular, symptoms that occur during exercise should always be taken seriously. Here are the typical warning signs:

  • Fainting during physical activity;
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness during physical activity;
  • Chest pains or tightness, at rest or during exertion;
  • Palpitations – skipping, irregular or extra beats during athletics;
  • Being unable to keep up with peers due to shortness of breath or noted loss of exercise tolerance

Preventing Sudden Cardiac Death

A proper evaluation should find most, but not all, conditions that would cause sudden cardiac death in the athlete. Some diseases are difficult to uncover while others can be diagnosed following a normal guideline-based screening evaluation.

The required physical exam includes measurement of blood pressure, a careful listening examination of the heart, and palpation of the peripheral pulses. If there is concern for a condition associated with a higher risk of sudden cardiac death, further evaluation guided by the sports cardiologist would continue and frank discussions regarding the appropriate “exercise-prescription” would take place. These discussions would include the risk profile for ongoing competitive athletics.

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About Dr. Jonathan Kim, MD

kim-jonathanDr. Kim is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Emory Heart and Vascular Center. He graduated from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN, and did his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. His specialties are Cardiology (Board certified since 2014) and Internal Medicine (Board certified since 2008) and his area of clinical expertise is sports cardiology. He has developed a new sports cardiology clinic at Emory-St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Types of Cardiovascular Disease

heart-word-cloud 9-4Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. But did you know there are more than 50 types of heart disease? Heart disease is actually an umbrella term that includes a number of conditions affecting the structures or function of the heart, some of which are genetic, and many of which are the result of lifestyle choices.

Types of Cardiovascular Disease:

Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is the most common form of heart disease. It occurs when the arteries supplying blood to the heart narrow or harden, which is known as atherosclerosis. CHD is usually the cause of heart attack, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease. Major risk factors include: high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, diabetes, advancing age, inherited (genetic) disposition.

Heart Attack – Also called “myocardial infarction,” a heart attack happens when blood flow to the heart is severely reduced or cut off, due to the hardening and narrowing of the coronary arteries from the build-up of fat, cholesterol, and other substances, known together as “plaque.” A blood clot forms around the plaque, blocking blood flow. This results in permanent damage or death of part of the heart muscle. The most common symptoms of a heart attack are:

  • Chest pressure or pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, back, arms or shoulder
  • Feeling weak, lightheaded, or nauseous

Arrhythmia – “Arrhythmia” means your heartbeat is irregular. It doesn’t necessarily mean your heart is beating too fast or too slow. It just means it’s out of its normal rhythm. When the heart doesn’t beat normally, it can’t pump blood effectively to the lungs, brain, and other organs, causing them to potentially shut down or become damaged. You could have an arrhythmia even if your heart is healthy, as it can be a side effect of medicines that you are taking or a manifestation of an abnormality elsewhere in your body.

Heart failure is a serious condition that commonly develops slowly over time, and is the leading cause of hospitalization in people older than 65. Heart failure is a bit of a misnomer, since it does not actually mean the heart has stopped working; rather, the heart pumps weaker than normal, causing blood to move through the body at a slower rate and increases pressures in the heart. The weakened heart muscle has to work overtime to keep up with the body’s demands, which can leave a person tired. Some of the symptoms of heart failure:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing when lying down
  • Swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet
  • General fatigue and weakness

Congenital Heart Disease is a category of heart disease in which congenital heart defects are present at birth. Defects occur when the fetus is developing and may produce symptoms at birth or during childhood, while others aren’t discovered until a person is an adult. Some causes of congenital heart defects are:

  • Chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome
  • Maternal viral infection in the first trimester of pregnancy
  • Maternal drug or alcohol abuse during pregnancy, and certain medications such as Warfarin

Heart Muscle Disease (Cardiomyopathy) is a progressive disease that causes the heart to be abnormally enlarged, thickened and/or stiffened. Cardiomyopathy limits the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively, and often leads to heart conditions like arrhythmias or heart failure.

While there is a wide range of heart and vascular conditions associated with cardiovascular disease, the good news is that many types of heart disease can be prevented with healthy habits. You can reduce your risk of certain types of heart disease, such as heart attack, coronary artery disease and peripheral artery disease by doing the following:

  • Eating a low sodium diet
  • Eating more fresh fruit and vegetables while limiting foods high in saturated fat
  • Exercising at least 3 – 5 times a week for 30 minutes a day
  • Stop smoking!
  • Controlling your diabetes and high blood pressure

If you suspect you have heart condition, talk with a trained Emory Healthcare doctor, who can recommend or administer screening or diagnostic tests.

About Dr. Danny Eapen, MD

eapen-dannyDanny Eapen, MD  is an Assistant Professor at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Eapen specializes in preventive cardiology and adult heart disease. He pursued a degree in medicine from the University of Miami, Miami FL, and his internship and residency in Internal Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. He also completed his research and general cardiology fellowship at Emory University.

Takeaways from Dr. Jokhadar’s and Dr. Sahu’s Congenital Heart Disease Chat

congenital-heart-chat-emailThanks to everyone who joined us Tuesday, July 14, for our live online chat on “Congenital Heart Disease – Even Adults Need Special Care”. We were fortunate to have Dr. Maan Jokhadar and Dr. Anurag Sahu available to answer your questions during this chat.

If you are an adult who was treated for Congenital Heart Disease as a child, it’s important to have regular cardiology care through adulthood. An adult congenital heart specialist can monitor your health and insure that if any problems arise they are detected early. They can also guide you on lifestyle issues.

Our chat participants submitted good questions about Congenital Heart Disease related to the need for adult follow-up care, diet and exercise guidelines, travel concerns, the risks of pregnancy and more. If you missed this chat, be sure to check out the full list of questions and answers on the web transcript.

Here are just a few highlights from the chat:

Question: I had surgery as a child, did that take care of the heart defect?

jokhadar-maanDr. Jokhadar: Some heart defects are in fact cured with heart surgery. However, most corrective surgeries improve the situation but do not completely cure it. This depends on many factors, including the type of defect and the type of surgery.

 

 

Question: Can’t my heart condition be monitored by my Internist during my annual physical?

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Dr. Jokhadar: Some heart conditions can be monitored by an internist or general cardiologist. However, this depends on the complexity of congenital heart disease. Follow up should be determined by a specialist while coordinating with the patient’s primary care physicians.

 
 

Question: What are activities, food, etc. that should be avoided if you have been diagnosed with congenital heart disease?

sahu-anurag
Dr. Sahu: In terms of activity, we generally want all of our patients to maintain an active lifestyle. If you have questions about certain activities, you should talk to your congenital heart specialist.In terms of food, strive for a healthy and balanced diet (avoid sugars, fried foods, etc.). If you want a specific type of diet to follow, many cardiologists recommend the Mediterranean Diet as a heart-healthy option. For more on the Mediterranean diet you can check out this blog.

 

If you have additional questions for Dr. Jokhadar or Dr. Sahu, feel free to leave a comment in our comments area below.

 

Congenital Heart Disease – Even Adults Need Special Care – Join Us for a Live Online Chat!

congenital heart chatDid you know that congenital heart defects affect approximately 40,000 babies each year? And now, due to advances in medicine, many of these patients are living to adulthood and there are estimated to be more than 1 million adults in the United States with congenital heart defects, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Unfortunately, some patients and their providers have the perception that their heart defect has been “cured.” The gaps in care resulting from this misperception can be harmful. Guidelines recommend that all adults with congenital heart defects stay in regular cardiology care, and those with moderate to complex (more severe defects) should receive care in an Adult Congenital Heart Center.
Join me on Tuesday, July 14, at 12:00 p.m. for a live, interactive web chat about “Congenital Heart Disease – Even Adults Need Special Care”. Dr. Maan Jokhadar will be available to answer questions and discuss various topics about Adult Congenital Heart Disease.

During this interactive web chat, you’ll be able to ask questions and get real-time answers from our Emory Healthcare professional.

Register now for our July 14 chat at emoryhealthcare.org/mdchats.

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About Dr. Jokhadar

Maan Jokhadar, MDMaan Jokhadar, MD, is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Jokhadar specializes in adult congenital heart disease and in heart failure. He went to medical school in Damascus, Syria and subsequently completed his internal medicine training at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. He then came to Emory for cardiology fellowship and joined the Emory cardiology faculty in 2009. Dr. Jokhadar is the recipient of several teaching awards.

What’s Causing Your Leg Pain? – Join Us for a Live Web Chat!

PAD Live ChatPeripheral artery disease (PAD) is a commonly undiagnosed disease affecting about 8.5 million Americans. Symptoms vary from cramping in the lower extremities, as well as pain or tiredness in leg or hip muscles. According to the American Heart Association, many people mistake the symptoms of PAD for something else, which is why it can easily go undiagnosed. Having the correct diagnosis is important because people with PAD are at a higher risk of heart attack or stroke, and if untreated, PAD can lead to gangrene and amputation.

Many people think their leg pain is due to arthritis, sciatica or just a part of aging. People with diabetes may even confuse PAD pain with a neuropathy, a common diabetic symptom that causes a burning or painful discomfort of the feet or thighs. It is important to know that, while PAD is potentially life-threatening, it can be managed or even reversed with proper care. If you’re having any kind of recurring pain, talk to your healthcare professional.

Join me on Tuesday, March 24, at 12:00 p.m. for an interactive web chat entitled “What’s causing your leg pain?” Dr. Robertson will be available to answer questions and discuss various topics about PAD, including symptoms, diagnosis and misdiagnosis, prevention and treatment.

During this interactive web chat, you’ll be able to ask questions and get real-time answers from our Emory Healthcare professional.

Register now for our March 24 chat at emoryhealthcare.org/mdchats.

About Dr. Robertson

Gregory Robertson, MDGreg Robertson, MD, is the chief of the Emory Heart and Vascular Clinic at Johns Creek. At the Emory Johns Creek Hospital he is chief of cardiology and the medical director of the Cardiac Catheterization laboratory and interventional program. He is board certified in Vascular Medicine, Endovascular Medicine, Interventional Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine.

Dr. Robertson’s research has had a focus on the development of new technologies and techniques to treat blocked leg arteries in patients with peripheral arterial disease, helping patients walk farther and prevent limb amputation in diabetic patients. While in the San Francisco Bay Area for 16 years before moving to Atlanta, he practiced with the well-known medical device inventor Dr. John Simpson, whose development teams invented the atherectomy procedure and the first percutaneous arterial closure device. Atherectomy is a procedure which allows the physician to remove plaque in blocked arteries without major surgery. His newest project is with Dr. Simpson’s invention of the Avinger Ocelot and Pantheris devices which open blocked arteries using smart laser imaging.

Dr. Robertson’s clinical expertise is oriented on performing minimally-invasive procedures to avoid major surgery. He has developed many of the vascular programs at the new Emory Johns Creek Hospital including 1) carotid artery stenting, 2) percutaneous repair of abdominal aortic aneurysms and 3) limb preservation for those at risk of limb amputation. He has also developed the cardiac intervention programs for emergency heart attack victims and elective procedures to include PCI and PFO/ASD closure.

Takeaways from Dr. Hoskins’ Arrhythmia Live Chat

arryhthmia live chatThanks to everyone who joined us Tuesday, February 24 for the live online chat entitled “Irregular Heart Beat: Is it normal?,” hosted by Emory Arrhythmia Center physician Michael Hoskins, MD.

Because arrhythmias are common in young- and middle-aged adults, it is important to understand the symptoms. Some arrhythmias are relatively harmless, but others can be fatal if not treated. Dr. Hoskins provided answers to questions about the diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disorders, as well as tips of how to deal with an episode of irregular heart beats. Check out the conversation by viewing the chat transcript! Here are just a few highlights from the chat:

Question: I have observed that during some of these episodes my blood pressure is really low and it has been recognized that sometimes my oxygen level is low during the night. could this be causing my arrhythmias? I do have trouble breathing through a deviated nostril.

Michael Hoskins, MDDr. Hoskins: A common condition associated with arrhythmias is sleep apnea. This can be caused by a deviated septum and can cause difficulty breathing and low oxygen levels at night. It sounds like you may benefit from a sleep apnea evaluation.

 

Question: I have been advised that I am a candidate for ablation for my a-fib. What are the options offered by Emory and how do I become educated about the options?

Michael Hoskins, MDDr. Hoskins: Ablation and medications are both treatment options for atrial fibrillation. It’s important to tailor that therapy to each specific patient. I would encourage you to schedule a visit with one of our arrhythmia specialists.

 

Question: Most irregular heartbeats do resolve within a few beats. If they don’t resolve for a longer period of time, a person would go to the emergency room, right? Or should that person wait for other symptoms, (dizziness or something else).

Michael Hoskins, MDDr. Hoskins: Some arrhythmias are more dangerous than others. We often encourage patients to call their doctor before going to the ER if it has been determined that their particular arrhythmia isn’t life threatening. However, certain arrhythmias need immediate attention and are best handled in the ER. If your arrhythmia is accompanied by severe chest pain, shortness of breath or loss of consciousness, you should consider calling 9-1-1.

If you missed this chat, be sure to check out the full list of questions and answers on the web transcript. For more information or to request an appointment to be screened for a heart rhythm disorder, visit emoryhealthcare.org/arrhythmia.

If you have additional questions for Dr. Hoskins, feel free to leave a comment in our comments area below.

 

 

How an Irregular Heartbeat Can Increase Your Risk of Stroke

Irregular HeartbeatAtrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common arrhythmia seen by physicians. AF is a condition in which the two of the heart’s four chambers beat irregularly. According to the American Heart Association, the risk of stroke is 5 times higher in patients diagnosed with AF because of an increased risk for clots in the heart chambers.

Depending on a patient’s age and other clinical risk factors for stroke, a scoring system is typically generated that will help classify that patient’s stroke risk. Patients with one or more risk factors for stroke are usually advised to take blood thinners for stroke prevention. Warfarin (or Coumadin) and other newer agents Pradaxa®, Xarelto® or Eliquis®  are proven therapies for stroke prevention in AF patients. All of these medications have proven to be safe and effective. Nevertheless, some patients may not tolerate these medications or could develop bleeding complications. In that case, a new option for stroke prevention has been studied and is awaiting FDA approval.

This new therapy is called the “Watchman” device. This device is delivered via a minimally invasive procedure (entry via the femoral vein) into the left atrium. In the left atrium this device is used to cover the left atrial appendage. X-Ray and echocardiography are used to guide this procedure. The left atrial appendage is a structure in the left atrium, or left heart chamber, that has a “cul-de-sac” shape and is responsible for the majority of clot formation in patients with non-valvular AF.

Emory Electrophysiologists have participated in the original studies of the “Watchman” device, which may lead to FDA approval. To schedule an appointment with an Emory Electrophysiologist, please call 404-778-7777 or visit emoryhealthcare.org/arrhythmia.

About Dr. El-Chami

Mikhael El Chami, MDMikhael El-Chami, MD, is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Emory University and is the director of the arrhythmia clinic at Emory University Hospital Midtown.

Dr. El-Chami received his undergraduate and doctorate of medicine degree at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. Following his internship and residency at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, he was selected to be a chief medical resident at Emory University Hospital Midtown. After completion of his Chief Residency he also finished a cardiology and cardiac electrophysiology fellowship at Emory. He has been an Emory Faculty member since 2008. He is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology and the Heart Rhythm Society, as well as an Alpha Omega Alpha honor medical society member.

Dr. El-Chami’s professional interests involve the treatment of heart rhythm disorders and prevention of sudden cardiac death. He has had numerous publications in the field of electrophysiology and continues to be involved in research on a number of studies related to atrial fibrillation and management of heart failure through device therapy.