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Heart & Vascular
Can the Right Diet Help Prevent Heart Disease?
Aug 20, 2014 By Dr. Susmita Parashar

Healthy DietThe simple answer is yes. A proper diet is one of the best ways to reduce your risk for heart disease. But changing entrenched eating habits can be difficult, and it can help to have a deeper understanding of the roles various nutritional components play in the function of your heart and circulatory system. Fats Fats serve a number of essential roles within your body, such as supporting cell growth, providing energy, helping with nutrient absorption and assisting in the production of certain hormones. But not all fats are the same, and it’s important to choose the right kinds to include in your diet. In general, saturated fats and trans fats increase the bad type of cholesterol (LDL) in your blood. These fats tend to be solid at room temperature, such as butter. Unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), on the other hand, can help lower the amount of LDL [...]

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Heart & Vascular
Is a Fast Heart Rate Dangerous?
Aug 18, 2014 By Dr. El-Chami

TachycardiaTachycardia is a general term used to describe a rapid heartbeat. In some instances, tachycardia is the body’s normal reaction to situations that cause increased levels of adrenaline and generally poses little or no health risk. However, other types of tachycardia can be more serious. When the heart beats significantly faster than normal, it can be less effective in providing oxygen-rich blood to tissues throughout the body. Though tachycardia sometimes goes unnoticed, it many cases the reduction in oxygen supply is associated with a range of symptoms, including shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, lightheadedness and chest pain. Some types of tachycardia can even lead to a heart attack or stroke. Tachycardia can sometimes be reversed with lifestyle changes such as reducing alcohol or caffeine consumption, controlling stress or making adjustments to your medication [...]

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Heart & Vascular
Are Heart Palpitations Cause for Concern?
Aug 11, 2014 By Michael Hoskins, MD

Heart BeatPalpitations are rapid, noticeable heartbeats that may be felt in the chest, back or throat. Often, they are associated with a fluttering sensation in the chest or that of the heart skipping a beat. They can occur following exertion or while you are at rest. Most of the time, palpitations are not a sign of a serious health condition. For instance, caffeine and nicotine consumption can cause palpitations. They can also occur as a result of stress or anxiety, vigorous exercise, a fever, hormonal changes associated with pregnancy or menopause, taking certain medications or the use of illicit drugs such as cocaine. In these cases, palpitations will generally resolve on their own or with changes in behavior — such as drinking less coffee, learning to control anxiety or making adjustments to the medications you take. But palpitations can also be an indication of underlying health [...]

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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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