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Heart & Vascular
Do All Heart Attacks Present With Chest Pain?
Jul 31, 2014 By Dr. Ijeoma Isiadinso

women heart painChest pain is the most common symptom of a heart attack in both men and women. However, it is important to understand that the exact nature of chest pain can be quite different in women and is often not the most prominent symptom of a heart attack. Most of us probably think of a heart attack the way it is portrayed on television and in the movies: A sudden, dramatic occurrence that causes the victim to clutch his or her chest in agony. Women, however, may report chest pressure, discomfort, fullness or a burning sensation. In addition, they often experience pain in adjacent areas, such as the upper abdomen, upper back, neck, arms and jaw. As a result of this variation of presenting symptoms, women who have complaints other than chest pain during a heart attack may be overlooked or not evaluated in a timely fashion. Women are more likely than men to have already sustained heart [...]

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Heart & Vascular
Has Your Heart Ever “Skipped a Beat”? It Was Probably a Premature Contraction
Jul 28, 2014 By Faisal Merchant, MD

Heart AtriumThe heart is made up of two upper chambers (atria) and two lower chambers (ventricles). In a normal heartbeat, an electrical impulse originates from an area in the right atrium called the sinus node. This impulse travels first to the atria, causing them to contract and pump blood into the ventricles. The electrical impulse then continues along its circuit to the ventricles, signaling them to contract and pump blood out to the lungs and the body. Sometimes, abnormal electrical signals originate from areas of the heart other than the sinus node. These extra impulses may target the atria or the ventricles, causing them to contract out of rhythm with the regular heartbeat. This type of arrhythmia is called a premature contraction. Premature contractions are common and may even go unnoticed. However, some people report a feeling of the heart skipping a beat, often followed by a [...]

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Heart & Vascular
What Is Atrial Flutter?
Jul 24, 2014 By Faisal Merchant, MD

Atrial FlutterAtrial flutter, also called “heart flutter,” is a type of arrhythmia that occurs when the upper two chambers of the heart (the atria) contract too rapidly. The first contraction in a normal heartbeat occurs in the atria. This contraction pumps the blood into the lower chambers of the heart, called the ventricles. The second contraction occurs in the ventricles and serves to pump blood out of the heart. In atrial flutter, the atria contract at an abnormally fast rate, but only about half of these contractions are followed by the second ventricular contraction. This causes the heart to work inefficiently and may result in poor blood supply to the body, including the brain and the heart muscle itself. If the heart and brain do not receive enough blood, organ failure can occur in the form of congestive heart disease, heart attack or stroke. Atrial flutter can occur on its [...]

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Heart & Vascular
What Causes Congenital Heart Disease?
Jul 21, 2014 By Fred H. (Rusty) Rodriguez III, MD

Congenital heartCongenital heart defects (CHDs) are the most common type of birth defect, affecting about 1% of infants born in the United States. While doctors can sometimes pinpoint the likely cause of a particular defect, most of the time the cause is uncertain. Most CHDs are the isolated type, meaning that they occur alone without other birth defects. In most isolated CHDs, the cause cannot be determined and is generally assumed to be a combination of genetic (inherited) and environmental factors. There are a number of genetic birth defects that often occur together with CHDs, including Down syndrome, Turner syndrome, Marfan syndrome and Williams syndrome. In these cases, a defect in the infant’s DNA causes the heart to develop improperly. For instance, about half of babies born with Down syndrome also have a CHD, most often a defect in the wall between the left and right sides of the [...]

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Heart & Vascular
What Is Arrhythmia?
Jul 16, 2014 By Michael Lloyd, MD

arrhythmiaAn arrhythmia refers to an abnormal pattern or rate of the heartbeat. Arrhythmias can include heartbeats that are too fast, too slow or irregular, as is the case with atrial fibrillation , the most common arrhythmia in the United States that requires medical attention. The normal rhythm of the heart is a tightly regulated but dynamic electrical phenomenon that changes according to the needs of the body. The heart has built-in pacemakers and “wiring” that coordinate contractions in the organ’s upper chambers (the atria) and lower chambers (the ventricles). Glitches in this complicated electrical system can cause the heart to "misfire.” Everyone has felt their heart "skip" a beat or two or speed up in times of fear or excitement or during exercise. Too much caffeine and certain medications can also cause heart palpitations (rapid thumping in the chest) in some people. [...]

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Heart & Vascular
How Does Heart Disease Present Differently in Women?
Jul 14, 2014 By Dr. Ijeoma Isiadinso

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 [...]

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Heart & Vascular
Emory Opens Heart Rhythm Clinics to Treat Growing Problem
Jul 11, 2014 By Michael Hoskins, MD

arrhythmia screening centerEmory Healthcare is launching new screening centers across the Atlanta area to help diagnosis abnormal heart rhythms, or arrhythmias. An arrhythmia is a disorder of the heart that occurs when the body’s electrical impulses, which direct and regulate heartbeats, do not function properly and cause the heart to beat slowly (bradyarrhythmias), rapidly (tachyarrhythmias) or in an uncoordinated manner. The new clinics will offer screening and, if needed, state-of-the-art care by some of the country’s leading arrhythmia experts. Clinics in Villa Rica, Conyers and Johns Creek are already operating, and a fourth location in Decatur will open later this summer. Emory has been a pioneer in shaping arrhythmia treatment options, serving as primary and principal investigators for many national clinical trials. We rank among the world’s leaders in cardiac resynchronization therapy and [...]

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Heart & Vascular
What Is Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib)?
Jul 9, 2014 By Michael Lloyd, MD

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
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Heart & Vascular
A Heart Attack May Look Different in Women
Jul 7, 2014 By Dr. Gina Lundberg

Heart Attack in WomenWhile the symptoms of a heart attack are often similar in men and women, women are more likely to experience “atypical” symptoms than men. That’s why it’s particularly important for women to be familiar with the full range of heart attack symptoms, including those that aren’t as common, but may be more common in women than men.

  • Chest Pain or Discomfort

This symptom isn’t always “painful.” It can also feel like squeezing, pressure, heaviness, tightness or fullness, and be anywhere from mild to severe.

  • Heaviness or Pain in Other Areas

These may include the back, neck, jaw or arms. This is more common in women. The pain or pressure can be gradual or sudden. It may come and go, gradually intensify or awaken one from sleep.

  • Cold Sweating

This can occur even without chest discomfort. If there is no obvious reason for sweating, such as exercise or

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Heart & Vascular
Congenital Heart Defect Repair in Childhood: Will I Need Another Surgery?
Jul 1, 2014 By Dr. Kogon

congenital heart repairNot too long ago, most babies born with serious heart defects died in childhood. Thanks to advances in cardiac care, some estimates indicate that today as many as 90% of children with congenital heart disease (CHD) are able to live well into adulthood. In fact, there are now more adults than children living with CHD, and it has become increasingly clear that this growing population requires ongoing, specialized care. For instance, even if their defects are treated surgically in childhood, many patients will require additional surgery as adults to keep their hearts functioning correctly. When many surgical procedures were first performed to correct congenital heart defects in children, the medical community generally assumed they were curative. But as the first generation of post-operative patients survived into adulthood, some began to develop late complications associated with [...]

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