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10 Tips for a Heart-Healthy Diet

Veggie Heart HealthyA healthy diet is one of the best ways to combat heart disease. And including healthier choices in your diet isn’t hard, since there are lots of delicious heart-healthy foods available, including whole grain breads, fruit, vegetables, fish, extra virgin olive oil, nuts and even chocolate. There are also some things you should avoid—or avoid too much of. Below are 10 tips to help you get on the path to a more heart-healthy diet.

  1. Eat Fish Regularly 
    Omega-3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, and docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA) that are found naturally in fish can provide numerous cardiovascular benefits, including reducing blood triglycerides, reducing blood clotting and regulating heart rhythms.
  2. Include Lycopene-Rich Foods in Your Diet
    Lycopene is a plant nutrient that has been associated with reducing the risk of heart disease. There is lots of lycopene in tomato products (particularly cooked ones), pink grapefruit and watermelon.
  3. Eat the Right Kinds of Fat
    Aim for a balance of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Research indicates that both types have benefits, including reducing the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood. Try choosing extra virgin olive oil or canola oil instead of butter or margarine, and natural peanut butter rather than the kind with hydrogenated fat added. Also, almonds, cashews, pistachios and walnuts are good sources of healthy fat and make for easy snacks.
  4. Eat Plenty of Colorful Fruits and Vegetables
    In general, richly colored fruits and vegetables contain lots of helpful plant nutrients, and many have been shown to help protect against heart disease, among other health conditions.
  5. Include Plenty of Fiber in Your Diet
    A diet high in both soluble and insoluble fiber can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Soluble fiber, in particular, helps lower cholesterol levels. Good sources of soluble fiber include oats, oat bran, fruits (such as apples, pears, citrus fruits and berries), vegetables, (like carrots, cabbage and sweet potatoes) and legumes. Insoluble fiber is found in grain products like whole-grain breads, cereals and pastas.
  6. Eat Chocolate—in Moderation
    Milk chocolate, dark chocolate and bittersweet chocolate all contain a unique kind of saturated fat — stearic acid — that doesn’t raise blood cholesterol levels, and dark chocolate is also a good source of substances called antioxidants that are helpful in combating heart disease and other health problems. But chocolate also contains added sugars and caffeine , which should be consumed in limited portions (see below), so don’t eat too much.
  7. Try the DASH Eating Plan
    “DASH” stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.” The DASH diet is low in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol, and rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods, whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts. In addition to helping with hypertension, the DASH diet may also help lower cholesterol. Learn more about the DASH Eating Plan.
  8. Reduce Salt
    Salt makes the body retain fluid, which can strain the heart. This can lead to increased blood pressure and added burden on your heart muscle. Try replacing added salt in your diet with fresh or dried herbs, lemon, onion or no-salt seasonings. Get ideas for other tasty salt substitutes.
  9. Limit Caffeine
    While there isn’t a consensus on the effects coffee can have on your heart, many experts recommend limiting caffeine intake to the equivalent of no more than three or four cups of coffee a day. But remember that other foods and drinks, such as tea, chocolate and many soft drinks, also contain caffeine and factor these into your daily total as well.
  10. Curb Added Sugars
    More than sugars found naturally in fruit and dairy products, added sugars are associated with elevated bad cholesterol and triglycerides and low good cholesterol, which increase the risk of heart disease.

If you are a woman who thinks you may be at a higher risk of developing heart disease, call 404-778-7777 to schedule a comprehensive cardiovascular risk assessment with an Emory Women’s Heart Center specialist.

About Dr. Cutchins

Alexis Cutchins, MDAlexis Cutchins, MD is an 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 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 Price 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 Is Congenital Heart Disease?

Congenital Heart GraphicCongenital heart disease, or CHD, is a broad term that covers a range of conditions present at the time of birth that can affect the structure and function of the heart. CHD is the most common type of birth defect, but thanks to a number of advances in medical and surgical treatment, more and more children with CHD are surviving into adulthood. In fact, according to the Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA), there are about one million adults living with CHDs in the U.S.

Some of the most common conditions that cause congenital heart disease include:

As children with CHDs grow into adults, they need ongoing specialty cardiac care. Yet, this high-risk group often experiences lapses in cardiac care due to the perception that they are “fixed” or because they aren’t experiencing symptoms. Moreover, CHDs are so closely associated with infancy and childhood that people often think the conditions just don’t affect adults.

The Congenital Heart Center of Georgia was created to bridge the gap between pediatric and adult care for people with CHDs. If you were born with a CHD and haven’t been evaluated regularly by a cardiologist, you were recently diagnosed with a CHD or you have a child who will be transitioning into adult care in the near future, learn more about the Congenital Heart Center of Georgia and make an appointment today.

About Dr. Book

Wendy Book, MDWendy Book, MD , is the director of the Emory Adult Congenital Heart Center. She has 15 years of experience in adult congenital heart disease, including clinical and research experience. She has a background in heart failure, transplantation and pulmonary hypertension, which complement skills of other Emory Adult Congenital Heart Center physicians. She is board certified in internal medicine, cardiovascular disease, advanced heart failure and transplant cardiology.

About the Congenital Heart Center of Georgia

The Congenital Heart Center of Georgia is a collaboration between Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory Healthcare. The Congenital Heart Center of Georgia is a comprehensive program for children and adults with congenital heart disease (CHD) that provides a continuum of lifesaving care from before birth through adulthood. It is the first comprehensive CHD program in the South and one of the largest in the country. The program is led by Emory Healthcare cardiologist Wendy Book, MD, along with Robert Campbell, MD, chief of cardiac services and director of cardiology at Children’s Sibley Heart Center. To schedule an appointment please call 404-778-7777.

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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

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

Fighting Heart Disease One Step at a Time

Michelle Brown with her Mother

Michelle Brown (left) pictured with her Mother, Mary Allen.

Emory Heart & Vascular Center employee, Michelle Brown, recently participated in the 2013 American Heart Association Heart Walk for herself and her late mother. Michelle’s mother, Mary Allen, was diagnosed with heart failure in her 40s and passed away from the disease in 2012. Her mom was an amazing role model to her and her family and Michelle wanted to memorialize her in the walk this year.

After losing her mother, Michelle, who is also in her 40s, decided she needed to change her lifestyle to avoid developing heart failure herself. Her mother had always encouraged her to lose weight and exercise so Michelle decided to start walking. She now walks 3 miles, 3 days a week and has changed her eating habits. As a result, she has lost 23 pounds in 3 months! She is motivated to continue her healthy lifestyle journey to live a long healthy life.

Watch the inspirational story below:

Michelle was a team captain for the Heart Walk this year. As a result of her efforts, she encouraged over 90 people to sign up to walk and raised $2290. She was instrumental in helping Emory Healthcare raise the most money than any other organization in Atlanta. Emory Healthcare raised close to $250,000 to fight heart disease in the 2013 Atlanta Heart Walk.

Related Resources:

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

markham-4web

Dr. David Markham, MD, MSc

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related Resources

Honoring Emory Cardiologist, Nanette K. Wenger, MD

Emory cardiologist, Nanette K. Wenger, MD, was awarded the highest honor for contributions in cardiopulmonary rehabilitation.

Nanette K. Wenger, MD, MACC, MACP, FAHA

We are proud to recognize, Emory cardiologist and professor of medicine in the division of cardiology at Emory University School of Medicine, Nanette K. Wenger, M.D., who was named a Master of the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (MAACVPR). She received this outstanding honor in recognition of her continued outstanding contributions to the field of cardiopulmonary rehabilitation and to the care of persons with cardiovascular and pulmonary disease. The AACVPR is an organization that promotes health and prevention of cardiovascular disease.

“It was exciting to have been involved in the development of and advocacy for cardiac rehabilitation several decades ago, when many considered it an experimental intervention,” says Dr. Wenger. “The enormous satisfaction today is that it is an accepted component of the continuum of cardiac care, with cardiac rehabilitation being a Class IA recommendation in all contemporary cardiovascular clinical practice guidelines.”

Dr. Wenger is internationally renowned for her research and clinical work on coronary heart disease in women. She has been a trailblazer and icon in the field of cardiology as author and co–author of more than 1,300 scientific and review articles and book chapters.

For more information, read the news story on Nanette, K. Wenger, M.D. and this prestigious honor.

Emory Heart & Vascular Center Offers Telehealth Services

Those of us who live in metropolitan areas typically have the luxury of easy access to major medical facilities. However, having access to medical specialists and subspecialists is often a challenge for people who live in rural areas within the state of Georgia. Fortunately, Emory Heart & Vascular Center has a technologically savvy solution this dilemma: Telehealth Services.

A Telehealth encounter simulates an in-office consultation or visit between a doctor and patient—the only difference is that a Telehealth appointment involves cameras and computer screens with specialized tools that transmit live video and medical information between physicians and patients. This technology can even communicate ultrasound images and stethoscope sounds. With our Telehealth capabilities, Georgians can typically limit their travel from their homes to 30 miles or less. Currently, Georgia has over 50 consultation sites, all equipped with Telehealth technology available for immediate use for all Georgians.

We provide a full range of more than 20 credentialed and board-certified specialists for Telehealth consultations. Emory Heart & Vascular Center is also affiliated with the Georgia Partnership For Telehealth, a charitable nonprofit organization. Together, we’re able to provide you with quick and convenient access to some of the country’s leading heart specialists.

Here is a list of our Specialty Services we offer through Teleheath:

General Cardiology

Adult Congenital Cardiology & Surgery

Electrophysiology

Heart Failure & Transplant

Cardiac Catheterization

Interventional Cardiology

Cardiothoracic Surgery

Cardiovascular Disease Risk Reduction / Cardiac Rehabilitation

Cardiac Imaging (PET, MRI, CT)

Electrocardiography

Peripheral Vascular Disease Intervention

Emory Heart and Vascular Center cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons are available for Telehealth consults Monday-Friday during regular business hours. To schedule a consult, contact the Georgia Partnership for Telehealth at 1-866-754-HEAL(4325).

Do you have any questions about Telehealth services through Emory Heart & Vascular? If so, be sure to let me know in the comments section.

About Byron Williams, Jr., MD:

Dr. Williams has been practicing medicine at Emory since 1994, and is a Martha West Looney Professor of Medicine as well as the Chief of Medicine at Emory University Hospital Midtown. His specialties include Internal Medicine (board certified since 1997) and Cardiology (board certified since 1981). Dr. Williams is a member of several organizational leaderships, including the American College of Cardiology, the American Heart Association, and the American Medical Association.