Posts Tagged ‘cardiomyopathy’

How Does Heart Disease Present Differently in Women?

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 back.

Coronary microvascular disease (MVD) is similar to CAD in that it affects the blood supply to the heart muscle. Instead of the major coronary arteries being blocked by significant plaque, in MVD there is spasm of the smaller arteries of the heart. This disorder affects women in greater numbers than men. Risk factors for coronary MVD are similar to those for CAD, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking and high cholesterol. As with CAD, angina is the most common symptom. However, in MVD, the angina tends to occur during normal daily activities and at times of mental stress.

Broken heart syndrome is another type of heart disease that is more common in women. Broken heart syndrome is also known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy or takotsubo cardiomyopathy and is characterized by chest pain and shortness of breath. Although, the symptoms are similar to a heart attack, stress-induced cardiomyopathy is not associated with significantly blocked coronary arteries. As the name implies, this syndrome develops as a result of extreme emotional or physical stress. Most individuals completely recover within a short amount of time with appropriate treatment.

Because heart disease often affects women differently than men, Emory created the Women’s Heart Center, a unique program dedicated to diagnosis, screening, treatment and prevention of heart disease in women. The Emory Women’s Heart Center physicians understand these differences and have specialized education and expertise in this area.

About Dr. Isiadinso

Ijeoma Isiadinso, MDIjeoma Isiadinso, MD, MPH, is an assistant professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Isiadinso completed her undergraduate studies at Binghamton University in New York, majoring in biology and sociology. She then pursued a joint degree in medicine and public health at MCP Hahnemann (Drexel University) School of Medicine. Dr. Isiadinso completed a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in cardiology at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia. She served as chief fellow during the final year of her cardiology fellowship.

Her commitment to public health has led to her involvement in several projects focused on heart disease and diabetes. She has participated in research projects with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She has been the recipient of numerous awards and presented her work at national conferences. Her research interests include inequalities in health care, community and preventive health, lipid disorders, women and heart disease, and program development and evaluation.

Dr. Isiadinso has served as the health advisor to nonprofit organizations. She has participated in panel discussions at high schools and universities and with the Black Entertainment Television Foundation.

Dr. Isiadinso is board certified in internal medicine, cardiovascular diseases, nuclear cardiology, echocardiography and cardiovascular computed tomography. She is a member of several professional organizations, including the Association of Black Cardiologists, the American College of Cardiology, the American Society of Preventive Cardiology and the American Public Health Association.

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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Happy Valentine’s Day: Hope For the Broken Hearted

Heartbreak, heartache, and heart broken are not words you would typically associate with the day of love (Valentine’s Day)…Or are they?

When February rolls around each year, we’re bombarded with messages and sentiments of love.  Couples, families and friends begin to plan for Valentine’s Day, the day of love and dinner reservations are made, gifts are purchased, cards are written, and for those that are really lucky, the decadence of chocolate awaits. For some of us though, Valentine’s Day can be difficult if that special someone is no longer around. The overwhelming symbolism of love may cause them to reminisce and feel a deep pain. We know this pain, usually felt in the heart, as a broken heart, but in the medical world this condition (yes, it’s a real medical condition) is known as acute stress cardiomyopathy.

Acute stress cardiomyopathy or “broken heart syndrome” is a relatively temporary heart condition brought on by stressful situations, such as a death of a loved one, or the complete shock of an unexpected break up. The syndrome can lead to congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, and potentially life-threatening heart rhythm abnormalities.

It’s been reported that patients, mostly women, have gone to the emergency room due to classic heart attack symptoms caused by the shock,but when doctors performed diagnostic tests, such as an electrocardiogram, the results tended to look very different from regular heart attack EKGs. Furthermore, subsequent tests showed that the heart tissue was not damaged at all.

Luckily, the symptoms of broken heart syndrome are treatable and the condition usually reverses itself in a matter of time. So if you’ve lost a love one or experienced a break up recently, although Valentine’s Day may be more difficult than most days, fear not–the once a year holiday and the detriment of loneliness will pass. Perhaps take the holiday as an opportunity to do something healthy for yourself. Relax, or knock a few things off your to-do list, try out a new recipe or craft, or even use the holiday as an opportunity to remind a friend how much they mean to you.

Tell us, have you ever experienced the broken heart syndrome? If so, how’d you get through it?

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A Very Special Thanksgiving For Sean Dookwah

It’s been a busy last few weeks at the Emory Heart & Vascular Center. Earlier in November, we shared with you a story of a recent milestone for our Heart & Vascular program when Emory physicians completed their 200th Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement. Milestones such as this one have tremendous implications for our patient community. We are consistently putting into practice innovative technology that means longer, fuller lives for our patients. For Sean Dookwah, from Athens, Georgia, this notion rings especially true this holiday season. Sean will be able to enjoy his first Thanksgiving holiday with a new lease on life after Emory physicians implanted his new ventricular assist heart device at Emory University Hospital. Sean’s VAD implant was the 100th such procedure performed at Emory.

The first ventricular assist device was implanted in Georgia at Emory in 2006 as a form of destination therapy (in place of a donor transplant) for individuals who are not eligible for–or unable to undergo–a heart transplant. Ventricular assist devices are battery-operated mechanical pumps that help a weakened heart pump blood throughout the body. They are most commonly used as a bridge to transplant for those whose medical therapy has failed and who are hospitalized with end-stage heart failure. More recently, the VAD is providing an alternative to transplant. VADs allow a near normal quality of life, with most patients returning home with their families while they wait for a donor heart to become available.

Sean Dookwah, Emory Patient

Sean Dookwah at Emory University Hospital

Sean, who is 39 years old, began his journey to receiving his ventricular assist device and returning home to his family just two years ago. He had spent years as a construction worker, which kept him fairly active and fit. But after pursuing an office-based career in IT, Sean fell into a more sedentary lifestyle, which included lack of exercise, poor eating habits, long, stressful hours, all accompanied by a 20-year smoking habit.

It was in 2009 that Sean began to feel weak and ill enough to justify a visit to his local emergency room in Athens. “I felt weak, tired, sick, terrible. I was not having a heart attack, but it was there that I was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, which is basically a weakening of my heart. That was a wake-up call,” says Sean.

After receiving the news, Sean moved in with his family and immediately adopted a healthier lifestyle, which included exercise, healthier eating, and dropping the smoking habit. Within about 18 months he dropped almost 150 pounds – from 480 to a current 330 pounds. He attributes much of his success in turning around his lifestyle to his friends and family.

“My friends and family have been incredible help and an inspiration to me – helping to keep me encouraged and on track, and some of my friends have even quit smoking themselves – both for me and them. I hope to eventually be added to a heart transplant list, but I have some work to do to still lose weight and get down to a healthier frame.”

And after his successful ventricular assist device implantation just a few days ago, Sean is eager to return home to his family for the the Thanksgiving Holiday and continue making healthy progress and enjoy his already drastically improved health. “I feel incredible compared to where I was just a few weeks ago. I was so tired and weak I couldn’t walk from one part of the room to the other,” Sean says. “Today, I feel alert, strong, healthy and like I could run a marathon. It’s amazing, and I am definitely thankful for everyone who made this possible for me – from the doctors and nurses at Emory – to my friends and family. I can’t wait to get home.”

It is milestones like our 100th VAD implant and stories such as Sean’s that make us especially thankful for the positive impact our team is able to have on our community. “Until fairly recently, surgeons have been implanting VADs as a temporary bridge to heart transplantation. We now have the ability to also offer those patients who are unable to undergo a heart transplant to dramatically improve the quality with what we refer to as destination therapy – meaning the device will stay with the patient indefinitely,” remarks David Vega, MD, professor of surgery and director of the heart transplant program in the Emory Transplant Center.

“This technology offers new hope and a much greater quality of life. And with more than five million Americans who suffer from congestive heart failure, with another half million diagnosed each year, this device is a viable, and often-times live-saving – option for our patients,” Vega continued.

Sean will be released for home today, one day before Thanksgiving and just a few days after his procedure, where he will join his family and friends for what very likely will be the most thankful of holidays.

We too are thankful to have the opportunity to improve the lives of people like Sean. And for those of us that are part of the Emory team, but are not in clinical roles, we are tremendously grateful for and appreciative of our researchers and care teams who make saving lives like Sean’s possible.

Happy holidays everyone.