Heart Disease

How Does Heart Disease Present Differently in Women?

Women's Heart DiseaseHeart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States, but it can manifest differently in women. In addition, certain types of heart disease affect women more often than men.

The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD). This occurs as a result of plaque buildup in the arteries (atherosclerosis) causing a decrease in blood flow to the heart muscle. It is well known that women may experience different symptoms of CAD than men. One of the most common symptoms is chest pain, also known as angina, which occurs when the heart does not receive enough oxygen-rich blood. In men, angina tends to manifest as a pressure or squeezing sensation in the chest. Although women also have chest pain, they are more likely to have atypical symptoms such as indigestion, shortness of breath or pain in the neck, jaw, stomach or back.

Coronary microvascular disease (MVD) is similar to CAD in that it affects the blood supply to the heart muscle. Instead of the major coronary arteries being blocked by significant plaque, in MVD there is spasm of the smaller arteries of the heart. This disorder affects women in greater numbers than men. Risk factors for coronary MVD are similar to those for CAD, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking and high cholesterol. As with CAD, angina is the most common symptom. However, in MVD, the angina tends to occur during normal daily activities and at times of mental stress.

Broken heart syndrome is another type of heart disease that is more common in women. Broken heart syndrome is also known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy or takotsubo cardiomyopathy and is characterized by chest pain and shortness of breath. Although, the symptoms are similar to a heart attack, stress-induced cardiomyopathy is not associated with significantly blocked coronary arteries. As the name implies, this syndrome develops as a result of extreme emotional or physical stress. Most individuals completely recover within a short amount of time with appropriate treatment.

Because heart disease often affects women differently than men, Emory created the Women’s Heart Center, a unique program dedicated to diagnosis, screening, treatment and prevention of heart disease in women. The Emory Women’s Heart Center physicians understand these differences and have specialized education and expertise in this area.

About Dr. Isiadinso

Ijeoma Isiadinso, MDIjeoma Isiadinso, MD, MPH, is an assistant professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Isiadinso completed her undergraduate studies at Binghamton University in New York, majoring in biology and sociology. She then pursued a joint degree in medicine and public health at MCP Hahnemann (Drexel University) School of Medicine. Dr. Isiadinso completed a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in cardiology at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia. She served as chief fellow during the final year of her cardiology fellowship.

Her commitment to public health has led to her involvement in several projects focused on heart disease and diabetes. She has participated in research projects with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She has been the recipient of numerous awards and presented her work at national conferences. Her research interests include inequalities in health care, community and preventive health, lipid disorders, women and heart disease, and program development and evaluation.

Dr. Isiadinso has served as the health advisor to nonprofit organizations. She has participated in panel discussions at high schools and universities and with the Black Entertainment Television Foundation.

Dr. Isiadinso is board certified in internal medicine, cardiovascular diseases, nuclear cardiology, echocardiography and cardiovascular computed tomography. She is a member of several professional organizations, including the Association of Black Cardiologists, the American College of Cardiology, the American Society of Preventive Cardiology and the American Public Health Association.

About the Emory Women’s Heart Center

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. Call 404-778-7777 to schedule a comprehensive cardiac screening and find out if you are at risk for heart disease.

Related Links

What You Should Know about Hypertensive Heart Disease

anginaHypertension, also called high blood pressure, occurs when blood flows through the arteries with too much force. Left untreated over time, hypertension can cause other heart disorders, collectively called hypertensive heart disease. Two of the most common hypertensive heart disorders are hypertensive coronary artery disease and hypertensive left ventricular hypertrophy.

Hypertension causes arteries to stretch beyond a healthy limit, resulting in tears in artery walls. Though the body naturally repairs these tears with scar tissue, that tissue also traps plaque and white blood cells, which can turn into blockages, blood clots and hardened, weakened arteries. When this process occurs in the arteries that supply the heart with oxygen-rich blood (coronary arteries), the result can be a decrease in heart function (heart failure) or a heart attack.

Hypertension also causes the heart to have to work harder to move blood through the body. Like any muscle, this increased workout results in the wall of the heart thickening and hardening, most notably in the left ventricle, the chamber primarily responsible for pumping blood out to the rest of the body. These changes in the ventricle wall can eventually decrease the heart’s pumping capability. This condition is called hypertensive left ventricular hypertrophy.

Common symptoms of hypertensive heart disease include:

  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain (angina), especially after exertion
  • Rapid, fluttering heartbeats (palpitations)

Left untreated, hypertensive heart disease can lead to heart failure, stroke, heart attack and kidney disease.

The good news is that hypertension can be controlled with lifestyle changes and medication, and the sooner the condition is discovered, the less serious damage it will cause to your heart.

If you are a woman who has hypertension or simply wants to learn more about your potential risk for heart disease, call 404-778-7777 to schedule a comprehensive cardiovascular risk assessment with an Emory Women’s Heart Center specialist.

Heart Disease Screening

About Dr. Lundberg

Gina Lundberg, MDGina Price Lundberg, MD, FACC , is the clinical director of the Emory Women’s Heart Center and a preventive cardiologist with Emory Clinic in East Cobb. Dr. Lundberg is an assistant professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine.

She is a national American Heart Association (AHA) spokesperson and was a board member for the Atlanta chapter from 2001 to 2007. Dr. Lundberg was the Honoree for the AHA’s North Fulton/Gwinnett County Heart Ball for 2006. In 2009, she was awarded the Women with Heart Award at the Go Red Luncheon for outstanding dedication to the program. She is also a Circle of Red founding member and Cor Vitae member for the AHA.

She has been interviewed on the subject of heart disease in women by multiple media outlets, including CNN and USA Today. In 2007, Governor Sonny Perdue appointed Dr. Lundberg to the advisory board of the Georgia Department of Women’s Health, where she served until 2011. In 2005, Atlanta Woman magazine awarded Dr. Lundberg the Top 10 Innovator Award for Medicine. In 2008, Atlanta Woman named her one of the Top 25 Professional Women to Watch and the only woman in the field of medicine.

Dr. Lundberg attended the Medical College of Georgia and trained in internal medicine at Atlanta Medical Center (Georgia Baptist). She completed her cardiology fellowship at Rush University in Chicago. She has been in practice in Atlanta since 1994. She is board certified in cardiology and internal medicine and was recertified in both in 2002. Dr. Lundberg has two children and considers motherhood her first and foremost career. Dr. Lundberg has lived most of her life in the metro Atlanta area.

About the Emory Women’s Heart Center

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. Call 404-778-7777 to schedule a comprehensive cardiac screening and find out if you are at risk for heart disease.

Related Links

Did you Know that Stroke is the Third Leading Cause of Death in Women? Learn how to Protect Yourself!

StrokeRisk factors for heart disease and stroke can be different for women versus men so it is exciting to note that earlier this year, the American Heart Association in conjunction with the American Stroke Association released new stroke prevention guidelines specifically for women!

The guidelines, based on scientific findings, offer tips on how to reduce risk factors for stroke as well as treatment protocol if a stroke does occur. The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association outlines the following:

  • Women who have had high blood pressure before pregnancy she be closely monitored by a physician to evaluate the need for adding medications to try to lower the risk for preeclampsia.
  • The following are risk factors that increase the risk for stroke:
    • Obesity
    • Smoking
    • High cholesterol

A patient should work with her physician to determine the best way to reduce these risk factors with lifestyle modifications such as diet and exercise.

  • Women who had preeclampsia, a condition some women develop during pregnancy that is typically characterized by high blood pressure, swelling and fluid retention, have a higher probability of stroke during or after pregnancy. Therefore, women who have had preeclampsia should develop a prevention plan in conjunction with their physician in order to mitigate the risk from this condition.
  • Women who are pregnant with moderate to severe high blood pressure should work with their physician to determine if they should be actively treated for the condition.
  • Birth control pills in combination with high blood pressure can increase the risk of stroke in female patients. Therefore, before a woman is prescribed birth control pills, she should be screened for high blood pressure.
  • If you suffer from migraine headaches, stop smoking! Scientific research shows that women with migraine headaches who smoke are at higher risk for a stroke.
  • Get screened for atrial fibrillation if you are a woman over 75 years old.

The Emory Women’s Heart Center offers screenings for women who could be at risk for heart disease. Take the short online quiz to see if you are at risk.

If you have one or more risk factors, we encourage you to schedule a comprehensive heart screening. During the screening you will develop an individualized risk reduction action plan to help prevent heart disease and stroke. Heart disease and stroke are preventable if you take action to develop a healthy lifestyle!

Heart Disease Screening

Also, to get more information on how to reduce your risk, we invite you to attend a Stroke Awareness Event at Emory Healthcare during May!

About the Emory Women’s Heart Center

Emory Women’s Heart Center is a unique program dedicated to screening, preventing and treating heart disease in women. The Center, led by nationally renowned cardiologist Gina Lundberg, MD provides comprehensive cardiac risk assessment and screenings for patients at risk for heart disease as well as full range of treatment options for women already diagnosed with heart disease care.

About Gina Lundberg

Gina Lundberg, MDGina Price Lundberg, MD, FACC, Emory Women’s Heart Center Clinical Director, is a Preventive Cardiologist with Emory Clinic in East Cobb. Dr. Lundberg is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. She is a National American Heart Association (AHA) spokesperson and has been a Board Member for Atlanta chapter from 2001 till 2007. Dr. Lundberg was the Honoree for American Heart Association’s North Fulton/ Gwinnett County Heart Ball for 2006. In 2009 she was awarded the Women with Heart Award at the Go Red Luncheon for outstanding dedication to the program. She is also a Circle of Red founding member and Cor Vitae member for AHA.

She has been interviewed on the subject of Heart Disease in Women in various media channels including CNN and in USA Today. Governor Sonny Perdue appointed Dr. Lundberg to the Advisory Board for the Department of Women’s Health for the State of Georgia in 2007 till 2011. In 2005, Atlanta Woman Magazine awarded Dr. Lundberg the Top 10 Innovator Award for Medicine. In 2008 Atlanta Woman Magazine named her one of the Top 25 Professional Women to Watch and the only woman in the field of medicine.

Related Links

Emory Women’s Heart Center
Quiz – Are you at Risk for Heart Disease
Become aware of the risks, signs and symptoms of stroke
Attend a Stroke Awareness Event at Emory Healthcare
Schedule Your arrhythmia Screenings

What Can You Do to Fight High Blood Pressure?

hypertensionDid you know that over 30% of adults (over the age of 20) have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension?* Did you also know that high blood pressure is a leading cause of heart disease, stroke and kidney disease? The good news is that high blood pressure can be prevented if you educate yourself and take the recommended course of action from your physician.

What is High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)?
Blood pressure is the amount of the blood force against the arterial walls. The upper number is the pressure when the heart is contracting and the lower number is when the heart is at rest.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is when one or both numbers are elevated. Normally it should be under 140/90 mmHg, and anything above this is considered elevated.

What are the symptoms of High Blood Pressure?
Many people think that you can tell if you have high blood pressure by experiencing symptoms like headache, nose bleeds or chest pains, but the reality is that hypertension is a symptomless disease. When blood pressure is elevated and is not treated, you heart, brain and kidneys can suffer the consequences and you do not know it.

Get checked for High Blood Pressure
Everyone should know what their blood pressure numbers are and get treated if elevated or prevent it from being elevated. Factors like age, obesity, family history, increased salt consumption, medications, lack of exercise, alcohol, drugs, renal disease and hormonal abnormalities can contribute to the development of high blood pressure.

What can I do to prevent high blood pressure?

  1. Reduce salt (sodium) intake – Salt is known to retain water and increase blood pressure and the United States is considered a society that consumes a high salt diet. Most of the salt we eat comes from processed and packed foods. The recommendation is to consume less than 1,500 mg of sodium a day, to get an idea a teaspoon of salt has 2,400 mg of sodium!
  2. Consume Potassium – Potassium counterbalances the effects of sodium, at least 4,700 mg daily is advised. Some of the foods rich in potassium are potatoes, greens, bananas, tomatoes and oranges. Patients with renal disease should discuss with their doctors about their potassium intake.
  3. Limit alcohol consumption – Men should limit their alcohol intake to 2 drinks per day and women to 1 drink daily.
  4. Exercise! Exercise! Do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity to keep your circulation, lungs and heart healthy.

If despite of trying your best to prevent hypertension your blood pressure is elevated, your doctor can work with you to find an appropriate medical regimen to control it. Medications that help your body eliminating the sodium excess, retaining potassium or relaxing your blood vessels can be prescribed to you. Together with diet and exercise, medications can control hypertension and prevent heart attacks and strokes.

To learn more about ways to prevent and treat hypertension, join us at the Community Education Series sponsored by the Emory-Adventist Hospital at Smyrna, 3949 South Cobb Drive Smyrna, GA 30080. The event will take place  on Wednesday June 18th, 2014 at 7:00 pm. To find out more, visit https://www.emoryadventist.org/education-events.

*Centers for Disease Control

About Dr. Gongora

Carolina Gongora, MDDr. Gongora is a Board certified cardiologist at the Emory Heart and Vascular Center and Assistant Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Gongora currently sees clinical patients at the Emory Heart & Vascular Center at Midtown and Emory Heart & Vascular Center at Smyrna. To schedule a general preventive cardiology consult please call 404-778-7777.
Dr Gongora went to medical school in Bogotá, Colombia, where she is from originally. She moved to Atlanta in 2005. Before starting her training in Internal Medicine and Cardiology at Emory University, Dr Gongora did a post doctoral research fellowship in hypertension and renal disease. Her research was partially funded by the American Heart Association.

During this time she published in recognized journals like the Journal of American College of Cardiology, Hypertension and Circulation. Also, she presented in nationally renowned meetings, like the American Heart Association, the American Society of Hypertension and the American Physiology Society meetings, among others. She has been a member of the American College of Cardiology, the American Physiological Society and the American Heart Association-Council for high blood pressure.

She is board certified in Cardiology, Internal Medicine and Echocardiography.

Related Links

Emory Heart & Vascular Center at Smyrna
Emory Women’s Heart Center
Manage Your Blood Pressure & Keep Your Heart Healthy
Emory Explores New Treatment Option to Reduce High Blood Pressure

Are You a Female Emory Patient Who Beat Heart Disease?

Share Your StoryIf so, please share your story with us! We would like to use patient stories to help educate other women on how they can prevent, reverse or beat heart disease. Many women still are not aware that heart disease is the number one killer of women, it causes more deaths than all forms of cancer combined, but in many cases it is preventable. You can contribute your story by visiting http://www.emoryhealthcare.org/heart-disease-women/share-your-story.html.

Take action – share your story. You may help save a life!

About Gina Lundberg, MD

Gina Lundberg, MDGina Price Lundberg, MD FACC is the Clinical Director of the Emory Women’s Heart center. She was the founder and Medical Director of the Saint Joseph’s Heart Center for Women established in 2007. She is a Preventive Cardiologist with Emory Clinic in East Cobb and has practiced at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital since 1998. She joined the Emory University faculty after the Emory and Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital merger in 2012. She serves on the American College of Cardiology Foundation (ACCF) Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease Committee and is a National American Heart Association (AHA) Spokesperson.

Related Links

Treating Congenital Heart Disease in Adults

Congenital Heart DiseaseDid 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).

We strongly recommend that all adults born with a congenital heart defect should have routine follow – up care with a congenital heart specialist in order to ensure the heart is healthy. Conditions can develop later in life that a patient could benefit from additional treatment later. Luckily, not all congenital heart patients have to have surgical or medical treatments – some patients may just need routine monitoring.

Congenital Heart Disease Treatments

For those congenital heart patients who need more advanced treatments your physician will work with you to determine if your condition warrants medical treatment only or if you need more advanced surgical treatment.

Medical Management of Congenital Heart Disease

If a patient has an of the following conditions, preventive care and medical management of the congenital heart disease may be sufficient to keep the heart healthy:

If the congenital heart defect is more serious, surgical or interventional treatment may be required such as:

  • Heart Transplant
  • Pulmonary Valve Replacement
  • Valve Repair and Replacement
  • Septal Defects
  • Congenital Structural Heart Interventions

If you were born with a congenital heart defect it is important to find a physician who has specialized training in congenital heart disease. These physicians have specialized training and experience to deal with the complexities of congenital heart disease. Emory recently partnered with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to form the Congenital Heart Center of Georgia that offers congenital heart care from birth until late life. Physicians at the Congenital Heart Center of Georgia have years of dedicated experience on patients with CHDs and will work with the team of physicians across CHOA and Emory to develop a treatment plan that best meets your needs.

About Dr. Sahu

Anurag Sahu, MDAnurag Sahu, MD is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine and is the Director of the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Emory University Hospital. He also specializes in cardiac MRI and cardiac CT imaging with specific training imaging of adults with congenital heart disease. He is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Medicine, Nuclear Medicine, Cardiovascular CT and Echocardiography. He has 4 years of adult congenital heart clinical and research experience.

About the Congenital Heart Center of Georgia

The Congenital Heart Center of Georgia, a collaboration between Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory Healthcare, is one of the largest programs in the U.S.—and the only one in Georgia—specializing in the treatment of children and adults with congenital heart disease (CHD). The team, led by Wendy Book, M.D., Robert Campbell, M.D., and Brian Kogon, M.D., provides individuals with congenital heart disease appropriate lifelong care from before birth through adulthood. To schedule an appointment please call 404-778-7777. Find more information about this unique partnership by visiting congenitalheartgeorgia.org.

Related Links

Emory Adult Congenital Heart Center Treatments

Want to Buy Your Mom a Gift that Counts this Year for Mother’s Day?

go-red-blogWell, now you can! Attend an Emory Heart Health Event and buy your mother a Women’s Heart Screening Gift Certificate! Heart disease kills more women each year than all the cancers combined and in many cases heart disease is preventable. Take time to educate yourself and your family on how to prevent, detect and treat heart disease by attending a heart health event at Emory University Hospital Midtown on Friday, May 9. During the educational event, participants will have an opportunity to meet and learn from Emory Women’s Heart Center physicians and staff as well as meet with different educational vendors who promote a healthy lifestyle.

Event Details

  • Date: Friday, May 9, 2014
  • Time: 7:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. – Heart health event – Emory University Hospital Midtown’s atrium
    Noon – Heart health educational event – How to Prevent, Detect and Treat Heart Disease in Women, a presentation delivered by Emory Women’s Heart Center physician Alexis Cutchins, MD
  • Location: Emory University Hospital Midtown
    550 Peachtree Street NE
    Atlanta, GA 30308

The gift certificates for a comprehensive heart screening includes:

  • Comprehensive physical exam
  • Cardiovascular risk factor analysis
  • Cholesterol analysis
  • Glucose analysis
  • Body Mass Index
  • Blood Pressure
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Intensive Risk Factor Education – You will receive a personalized Healthy Eating & Exercise Plan
  • Cholesterol Education: Smoking Cessation & Stress Management

To learn more or to register for this women’s heart health event, please call Emory HealthConnection℠ at 404-778-7777.

The events are free! Parking will be available in hospitals’ main parking lots.

Take action to prevent heart disease by attending the women’s heart health event and buying a gift certificate for your mother to get her heart checked!

About the Emory Women’s Heart Center

Emory Women’s Heart Center is a unique program dedicated to screening, preventing and treating heart disease in women. The Center, led by nationally renowned cardiologist Gina Lundberg, MD provides comprehensive cardiac risk assessment and screenings for patients at risk for heart disease as well as full range of treatment options for women already diagnosed with heart disease care.

Heart Disease Screening Find out if you are at risk for heart disease by scheduling your comprehensive cardiac screening. Call 404-778-7777.

Reversing Heart Disease – Is it Possible?

Did you know that in women, heart disease takes more lives than every type of cancer combined? The good news is that in the last 20 years deaths due to heart disease have declined thanks to advances in medicine as well as education of the population.

In the past, heart disease was thought to be just a “man’s disease,” but surprisingly more women currently die from cardiovascular disease than men. Therefore, it is important to take action to prevent and potentially reverse heart disease. If you think you may be at risk, schedule your heart disease screening today.

There are various things you can do to reverse heart disease and if action is taken quickly, heart disease symptoms can be reduced in a very short period of time.

  • Evaluate your diet to determine if the foods you are eating are causing plaque build up. If you stop consuming foods that are contributing the plaque build up, your arteries will have a better chance to recover. A plant based diet incorporating fruits, vegetables and whole grains can likely help to reverse heart disease.
    • If this diet is too restrictive, or you are just looking to prevent heart disease, the USDA ‘s new “MyPlate” program is a good option. It suggests filling half of your plate with fruits and vegetables, and the other half is split between lean proteins and good carbs, like brown rice or quinoa. In addition, the program says to:
      • Reduce saturated fat to less than 7% of your daily total calories
      • Choose healthier fats, like from salmon, omega-3 fatty acids, nuts, avocados and olives
    • This will ensure that you feel better, no matter how old or how sick you may have felt before, in a more sustainable way.
  • Exercise – If you really want to reverse heart disease, you have to start working exercise into your daily routine. If you have never exercised, you can start with as little as 15 minutes a day and work your way up to 30 minutes a day. If you don’t have time to hit the gym each day, work 30 minutes into your daily routine. Walk your child to school, take the stairs at work, go for a 15-minute walk at lunch, or mow your lawn. These are all ways to get your heart rate up during your daily activities.
  • Relax – take time each day to totally unwind and de-stress. Turn off the computer, turn off the TV, put the kids to bed and totally relax. Stress is a big contributor to heart disease, the quicker you learn to manage your stress the quicker you will be able to reverse some of the symptoms of heart disease.

Heart Disease Screening

About Farheen Shirazi, MD

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 Resources:

What is Congestive Heart Failure? Can I Prevent It?

Heart Disease Risk QuizMore than 5 million Americans live with Congestive Heart Failure, and heart failure costs the United States more than $32 billion dollars each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Congestive heart failure affects all ages including children, adolescents, adults and the elderly, and is equally prevalent among women and men. There are two conditions that cause congestive heart failure; systolic dysfunction and diastolic dysfunction. Systolic dysfunction is when the heart muscle becomes weak and cannot pump blood adequately. Diastolic dysfunction is when the heart muscle becomes very thick and stiff making it difficult for the heart to fill with blood (often a result of poorly controlled high blood pressure and a frequent causes of heart failure hospital admissions in women).

Congestive heart failure occurs when the heart is not able to pump blood to all the organs and tissues of the body (either because it is too weak or because it is not filling well enough). Instead of going where it needs to go, fluid can back up into different organs in the body. This fluid “congestion” is what gives this condition its name. Initial symptoms of congestive heart failure are swelling, heavy breathing and fatigue.

Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure

Some examples of the effect congestive heart failure can have on different organs of the body are:

  • The lungs can become congested – called a pulmonary edema – which can lead to breathing problems, a decreased ability to exercise, and fatigue.
  • Fluid can build up in the liver, which decreases its ability to get rid of the body’s toxins and create important proteins needed to function.
  • The Gastro-intestinal tract can be affected and may become less likely to absorb much-needed nutrients and medicines.
  • Fluid also commonly swells up in the ankles, feet, legs and arms – called edema.
  • Eventually, if untreated, all parts of the body can be negatively affected.

The good news is that congestive heart failure can be prevented!

Preventing Congestive Heart Failure

  • Regularly monitor your blood pressure and if you are diagnosed with hypertension work with your physician to develop the best approach to lower it. Blood pressure control is the best way to stop congestive heart failure from occurring
  • Quit smoking
  • Lose weight (if you are overweight)
  • Exercise more often – it is recommended to exercise 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week in order to keep your heart healthy and reduce risk of developing coronary artery disease
  • Surgery, when appropriate, for those patients with congestive heart failure due to valvular disease.
  • Medication – work with your Emory Women’s Heart Center specialist to develop the best treatment plan for you if you have had a heart attack or have high blood pressure. This will ensure your heart maintains the best condition possible as you move forward.

 

Heart Disease Screening

Heart disease may be prevented if you are motivated to take the necessary steps to protect your heart! Schedule your comprehensive cardiovascular screening today to assess your risk for heart disease and to develop your personalized prevention plan.

Take action today to potentially save a life!

Related Resources:

 

About the Emory Women’s Heart Center

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

Alexis Cutchins, MD is Assistant Professor of Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Cutchins completed medical school at Emory University School of Medicine before going to New York Presbyterian Hospital for her Internship and Residency in Internal Medicine. She completed an NIH-supported research fellowship in Vascular Biology and a clinical fellowship in Cardiovascular Diseases at the University of Virginia in 2012. She has a special interest in heart disease in women in addition to heart disease prevention and risk reduction in cardiology patients.

 

About Dr. Cutchins

Dr. Alexis CutchinsDr. Cutchins has published several different articles on adipose tissue distribution and obesity in journals such as Circulation Research, Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis and Vascular Biology and Stroke and has a special interest in the effects of adipose tissue distribution on the heart.

Dr. Cutchins is board certified in Internal Medicine (2007) and Cardiovascular Diseases (2012). She is a member of several professional organizations including the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology.

Dr. Cutchins sees patients at Emory Heart & Vascular Center at Emory University Hospital Midtown and Emory Heart & Vascular Center at Emory Saint Joseph’s.
She enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband, their three daughters and their dog. She loves to cook and ride horses.

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.

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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.

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