High Blood Pressure

What Is Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib)?

Atrial FibrillationAtrial fibrillation is the most common irregular heart rhythm in the United States. According to the American Heart Association, about two million Americans suffer from atrial fibrillation. This irregular heart rhythm occurs when multiple circuits of disorganized electrical activity in the top chambers of the heart (the atria) replace the organized electrical activity that is normally generated by the heart. The result is “quivering” (or “fibrillation”) of the atria instead of regular heartbeats.

Although not directly life threatening, atrial fibrillation often produces a fast, irregular and ineffective heart rhythm that can cause a variety of symptoms, including chest pain, decreased blood pressure, weakness, lightheadedness and shortness of breath.

There are many conditions that can cause atrial fibrillation. The most common include:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Coronary artery disease (CAD)
  • Heart valve disease
  • Heart surgery
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Heart failure
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Alcohol use

Recently, it has been discovered that high-level athletes competing in endurance sports are at higher risk of developing this condition. Of note, the risk of atrial fibrillation increases with age, particularly after age 60. However, in at least 10% of cases, atrial fibrillation occurs without any identifiable cause or risk factor. This is called “lone atrial fibrillation” and can be successfully treated in many cases.

Atrial fibrillation was once thought to be a harmless condition, but we now know that it can contribute to additional heart problems over time, including stroke and heart failure. Only a few years ago, people suffering from this common heart arrhythmia were told they would probably have to live with the problem. Today, however, an increasing number of people with atrial fibrillation can be treated and cured, thanks to innovative therapies and procedures such as cardiac ablation, available through the Emory Heart & Vascular Center’s Atrial Fibrillation Program.

With sites at Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown and Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital, Emory’s Heart & Vascular Center has one of the few truly comprehensive atrial fibrillation treatment programs of its kind in the Southeast.

For more information about the Emory Atrial Fibrillation Program or to schedule an appointment, please call Emory HealthConnection℠ at 404-778-7777 or 1-800-75-EMORY.

About Dr. Lloyd

Michael Lloyd, MDMichael Lloyd, MD , began practicing medicine at Emory in 2007. He specializes in cardiology and cardiac electrophysiology. His areas of clinical interest and research include arrhythmias in athletes, arrhythmias in young adults with congenital heart disease, atrial fibrillation and implantable devices for the treatment of heart failure. Dr. Lloyd is the program director for the Cardiac Electrophysiology Fellowship Program at Emory and holds organizational leadership positions with the American College of Cardiology, the American Heart Association and the Heart Rhythm Society.

About Emory’s Arrhythmia Center

Emory’s Arrhythmia Center is one of the most comprehensive and innovative clinics for heart rhythm disorders in the country. Our electrophysiologists have been pioneers in shaping treatment options for patients with arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation, as well as for those with congestive heart disease. Our specialized electrophysiology (EP) labs host state-of-the-art equipment, including computerized three-dimensional mapping systems to assist with the ablation of complex arrhythmias, and an excimer laser system to perform pacemaker and defibrillator lead extractions.

Patients with devices, whether implanted at Emory or elsewhere, have access to Emory’s comprehensive follow-up care. Patients benefit from remote monitoring, quarterly atrial fibrillation support groups and 24-hour implantable cardiac device (ICD) and pacemaker monitoring services. Inpatient telemetry and coronary care units, as well as outpatient care and educational support of patients with pacemakers and ICDs, complete Emory’s comprehensive range of arrhythmia treatments and services.

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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.

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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

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!

Emory Explores New Treatment Option to Reduce High Blood Pressure

heart-stethoscopeAbout, 10-20 percent of high blood pressure, or hypertension, patients cannot control their symptoms with medication. A new experimental procedure, The SYMPLICITY HTN-3 Blood Pressure trail, is being conducted to help these patients drop their blood pressure an average of 30 points.

Dr. Chandan Devireddy recently reported to Fox 5 Atlanta that approximately 40 percent of people with treatment-resistant hypertension experience surges of adrenaline, signaling the kidneys to ramp up blood pressure. For these patients—who can’t control their blood pressure no matter how many medications they’re taking—Dr. Devireddy and his team are exploring a new treatment option. Because Dr. Devireddy has identified the kidneys as a potential source of the problem in treatment-resistant hypertension patients, the study will evaluate how hypertension among these patients is affected by delivering radio frequency energy to the arteries that supply blood to the kidneys. The goal of the procedure is to diminish or cease the excess adrenaline being delivered to the kidneys, thereby reducing blood pressure.

The study’s procedure, which will be conducted at Emory University Hospital Midtown, is recruiting 20 volunteers. Candidates for the study are those with long-term high blood pressure that hasn’t responded to treatment from at least three medications.

“The SYMPLICITY HTN-3 Blood Pressure study is double-blinded, so half of the volunteers will get the investigational procedure; half will get a so-called “sham” procedure. Researchers and participants won’t know who got what until it’s over,” says Dr. Devireddy.

Read more about the SYMPLICITY HTN-3 Blood Pressure trial being conducted at Emory University Hospital Midtown.

 

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Is Your High Blood Pressure Out of Control?

High Blood Pressure Web ChatDo you have uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure) and need another option for your care?

If so, the Emory Heart & Vascular Center is now enrolling patients in a study for this condition. Called the Symplicity HTN – 3 Study, this clinical research study will test the safety and effectiveness of a procedure called renal denervation using the Symplicty Catheter System as a treatment for uncontrolled hypertension. You may be eligible to participate in the research if you are between the ages of 18 and 80, you have an average systolic blood pressure (SBP) > to 160mmHg and you are taking three or more antihypertensive medications. Chandan Devireddy, MD, FACC, FSCAI is the principle investigator in the trial at Emory.

For more information about the clinical trial, please contact Emory HealthConnection 404-778-7777.

CAUTION: Investigational device. Limited by Federal (United States) law to investigational use.

If you have high blood pressure and want to learn more about what you can do to manage it, join us tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. for a chat on hypertension with Dr. Susmita Parashar. Visit Emoryhealthcare.org/mdchats to register and see a complete listing of Emory Healthcare’s live chats.

High Blood Pressure Related Resources:

Talk to an MD About Your Blood Pressure – No Appointment!

 

Do you suffer from high blood pressure and want to ask a physician questions without scheduling an appointment?
High Blood Pressure Chat

One third of people living in the United States  experiences high blood pressure. If you are one of the many who suffer from high blood pressure, join Emory Heart & Vascular Center preventive cardiologist Dr. Susmita Parashar on Tuesday, December 6 at 12:30 p.m. for an interactive online Q & A web chat. The topic is “Diagnosing, Treating and Managing High Blood Pressure.”

Dr. Parashar will be available to answer questions and discuss various topics about hypertension including symptoms, diagnosis, and treating and living with hypertension. To register for the online chat, visit: http://www.emoryhealthcare.org/heart or click the image to the right to be directed to the chat sign-up form.

 

Related Resources:

Emory Researchers Making Strides to Combat Childhood Obesity

Childhood Obesity & the HeartResearchers at Emory’s Heart & Vascular Center are taking strides to combat childhood obesity by being at the forefront of the formation of the Global Coalition to Combat Cardio – Metabolic Syndrome. This is a group of public health officials and medical experts from around the world led by Emory Heart & Vascular Cardiothoracic Surgeon, Omar Lattouf, MD, PhD.

Cardio-metabolic syndrome (CMS) is a cluster of diseases and risk factors—including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, unhealthy cholesterol levels and abdominal fat—that puts a person at higher risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. The underlying causes are obesity, being overweight, physical inactivity and genetic factors.

The coalition will initially focus on an educational campaign to combat childhood obesity. Lattouf outlined plans to bring lessons about nutrition, exercise and the health hazards associated with obesity into Georgia classrooms.

Obesity & Heart Health Related Resources:

Manage Your Blood Pressure & Keep Your Heart Healthy!

Manage blood pressure heart healthDid you know that approximately 90% of all Americans will develop hypertension over their lifetime? One in three adults has high blood pressure, yet, many people don’t even know they have it.

Hypertension or high blood pressure occurs when your blood flows with too much force through your arteries, stretching your arteries beyond a healthy limit and causing microscopic tears. Though our 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. These effects in turn prevent blood flow and cause heart tissue to die, causing further severe conditions such as stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and heart failure.

High blood pressure is the single most significant risk factor for heart disease and can injure or kill you. It is known as the “silent killer” as it shows no symptoms, except in its most extreme cases known as hypertensive crisis, and without knowing it, you can damage your heart, brain, eyes and kidneys.

Blood pressure measures the force pushing against your arterial walls. A blood pressure reading consists of two numbers, systolic and diastolic. The systolic blood pressure is usually the higher number on the top that shows the pressure on the arteries when the heart is beating or contracting. This usually increases as you get older, but is given more attention as it can be major risk factor for heart disease for those 50 years and over. Diastolic blood pressure is the lower number at the bottom that measures the pressure on the arteries between heart beats or when the heart is resting.

It is very important to maintain your blood pressure at a healthy level to avoid severe health conditions. A normal level of blood pressure is less than 120 mm Hg systolic AND less than 80 mm Hg diastolic, so less than 120/80 mm Hg, for ages 20 and over. Keeping your blood pressure within this range can help reduce your risk of overstretched or injured blood vessel walls and blockages that cause your heart to pump harder as well as protect your body so that your tissue receives regular supplies of oxygen-rich blood.

High blood pressure is manageable and with a few lifestyle changes, you can stay healthy and avoid medication:

  1. Eating a heart-healthy diet, which includes reducing sodium as well as saturated and trans fat, cholesterol and added sugars, and eating foods high in whole grain fiber, lean protein, and a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.
  2. Being physical active and maintaining a healthy weight- 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity five times a week. Unfit or moderately fit adults had twice the risk for high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome and diabetes than those who were highly fit.
  3. Managing stress
  4. Limiting alcohol- one to two drinks for men and one drink for women
  5. Avoiding tobacco smoke
  6. Regular Blood pressure screenings- the American Heart Association recommends a blood pressure screening at your regular healthcare visit or once every 2 years after age 20, if your blood pressure is more than 120/80 mm Hg. You can also consider home-monitoring.

Emory Healthcare is a proud sponsor of American Heart Association’s My Heart. My Life Campaign that promotes My Life Check –Life’s Simple 7. Eating better is one of the 7 steps to a healthier heart.

Learn more about The Emory Heart & Vascular Center  by visiting: http://www.emoryhealthcare.org/heartandvascular

About Gregory Robertson, MD:
Dr. Robertson specializes in Cardiology and Internal Medicine, and is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Emory.  He sees patients at Emory Johns Creek Hospital.   He is very experienced in the management of hypertension and some of his other areas of clinical interest include atherosclerosis, cardiac catheterization, cardiovascular disease, valve disease, and peripheral artery disease. Dr. Robertson holds an organizational leadership membership at The American College of Cardiology, and has contributed to multiple publications in his field.