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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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Heart & Vascular
What You Should Know about Hypertensive Heart Disease
Jun 24, 2014 By Dr. Gina Lundberg

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 [...]

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Heart & Vascular
Signs and Symptoms of Congenital Heart Defects
Jun 10, 2014 By Fred H. (Rusty) Rodriguez III, MD

CDH BabyBecause congenital defects can decrease the heart's ability to pump blood and deliver oxygen throughout the body, they often produce telltale signs. Below are some of the more common symptoms that indicate a baby may have congenital heart disease (CHD).

  • Heart Murmur
A heart murmur is often the first sign of CHD. In basic terms, a murmur is just an extra heart sound, in addition to the regular sounds of a beating heart. Heart murmurs usually don't indicate the presence of any heart problem. Sometimes a doctor can use a stethoscope alone to determine whether a particular murmur is a sign of heart disease. In other cases additional tests are necessary to determine the exact nature of a murmur.
  • Breathing Difficulties
Breathing difficulty caused by blood building up in the lungs (lung congestion) is a sign of a serious defect that will likely need medical or surgical [...]

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Heart & Vascular
Tasty, Heart Healthy Summer Breakfast recipe!
Jun 9, 2014 By Farheen Shirazi, MD

struedel1Grab some healthy summer fruits and mix up a heart healthy summer breakfast muffin that your family will love! This fat – free streusel muffin recipe is delicious and filling. Try it out to add some spice to your summer meals! Fat – Free Streusel Muffins Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups all –purpose flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup non-fat plain yogurt
  • 2/3 cup skim milk
  • ½ cup blueberries or diced apples
Streusel Topping:
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
Directions In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Gently stir in the yogurt and milk, blending just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in fruit. Fill lightly greased or paper-lined muffin cups ½ full with batter. Place 1 teaspoon of cinnamon-sugar mixture on top of each, and add batter to fill [...]

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