Posts Tagged ‘congestive heart failure’

What is Congestive Heart Failure? Can I Prevent It?

Heart Disease Risk QuizMore than 5 million Americans live with Congestive Heart Failure, and heart failure costs the United States more than $32 billion dollars each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Congestive heart failure affects all ages including children, adolescents, adults and the elderly, and is equally prevalent among women and men. There are two conditions that cause congestive heart failure; systolic dysfunction and diastolic dysfunction. Systolic dysfunction is when the heart muscle becomes weak and cannot pump blood adequately. Diastolic dysfunction is when the heart muscle becomes very thick and stiff making it difficult for the heart to fill with blood (often a result of poorly controlled high blood pressure and a frequent causes of heart failure hospital admissions in women).

Congestive heart failure occurs when the heart is not able to pump blood to all the organs and tissues of the body (either because it is too weak or because it is not filling well enough). Instead of going where it needs to go, fluid can back up into different organs in the body. This fluid “congestion” is what gives this condition its name. Initial symptoms of congestive heart failure are swelling, heavy breathing and fatigue.

Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure

Some examples of the effect congestive heart failure can have on different organs of the body are:

  • The lungs can become congested – called a pulmonary edema – which can lead to breathing problems, a decreased ability to exercise, and fatigue.
  • Fluid can build up in the liver, which decreases its ability to get rid of the body’s toxins and create important proteins needed to function.
  • The Gastro-intestinal tract can be affected and may become less likely to absorb much-needed nutrients and medicines.
  • Fluid also commonly swells up in the ankles, feet, legs and arms – called edema.
  • Eventually, if untreated, all parts of the body can be negatively affected.

The good news is that congestive heart failure can be prevented!

Preventing Congestive Heart Failure

  • Regularly monitor your blood pressure and if you are diagnosed with hypertension work with your physician to develop the best approach to lower it. Blood pressure control is the best way to stop congestive heart failure from occurring
  • Quit smoking
  • Lose weight (if you are overweight)
  • Exercise more often – it is recommended to exercise 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week in order to keep your heart healthy and reduce risk of developing coronary artery disease
  • Surgery, when appropriate, for those patients with congestive heart failure due to valvular disease.
  • Medication – work with your Emory Women’s Heart Center specialist to develop the best treatment plan for you if you have had a heart attack or have high blood pressure. This will ensure your heart maintains the best condition possible as you move forward.

 

Heart Disease Screening

Heart disease may be prevented if you are motivated to take the necessary steps to protect your heart! Schedule your comprehensive cardiovascular screening today to assess your risk for heart disease and to develop your personalized prevention plan.

Take action today to potentially save a life!

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About the Emory Women’s Heart Center

Emory Women’s Heart Center is a unique program dedicated to screening, preventing and treating heart disease in women. The Center, led by nationally renowned cardiologist Gina Lundberg, MD provides comprehensive cardiac risk assessment and screenings for patients at risk for heart disease as well as full range of treatment options for women already diagnosed with heart disease care. Find out if you are at risk for heart disease by scheduling your comprehensive cardiac screening. Call 404-778-7777.

Alexis Cutchins, MD is 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 Dr. Cutchins

Dr. Alexis CutchinsDr. Cutchins has published several different articles on adipose tissue distribution and obesity in journals such as Circulation Research, Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis and Vascular Biology and Stroke and has a special interest in the effects of adipose tissue distribution on the heart.

Dr. Cutchins is board certified in Internal Medicine (2007) and Cardiovascular Diseases (2012). She is a member of several professional organizations including the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology.

Dr. Cutchins sees patients at Emory Heart & Vascular Center at Emory University Hospital Midtown and Emory Heart & Vascular Center at Emory Saint Joseph’s.
She enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband, their three daughters and their dog. She loves to cook and ride horses.

Heart Disease is the Number One Killer of Women – Take Action Now to Avoid Being a Statistic!

Many people consider heart disease to be a predominantly male-oriented condition. However, heart disease is the number one killer in women and affects one out of every three in the United States, according to the American Heart Association. Heart disease occurs when fatty build-up in your coronary arteries, called plaque, prevents blood flow that’s needed to provide oxygen to your heart.  When the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced, or completely cut off, a heart attack occurs.

“The scary thing is that heart attacks in females are more likely to be fatal than in men,” explains Farheen Shirazi, Cardiologist at the Emory Heart & Vascular Center at Johns Creek. “Far too often, women ignore the warning signs of a heart attack and do not seek immediate medical attention. As time elapses, the muscles of the heart weaken, causing severe or life-threatening damage.”

Thankfully the awareness about heart disease continues to be on the rise. “The most important weapon against heart disease is awareness. Women need to research their family history and take time to educate themselves on not only the risk factors and symptoms of heart disease, but preventive medicine as well.”

How can you educate yourself? Join Dr. Shirazi on Tuesday, April 9 for an online web chat on women and heart disease. She will be available to answer your questions such as: what women can do to prevent heart disease, the importance of getting treatment right away and the research underway to combat heart disease in women.


 About Dr. Farheen Shirazi

Farheen Shirazi, MD is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine and a cardiologist at the Emory Heart & Vascular Center.  She specializes in preventive cardiology and heart disease in women.  Dr. Shirazi completed medical school at Morehouse School of Medicine, her Internship at New York University School of Medicine, her residency at Stanford Hospital and her Fellowship at Emory University School of Medicine.  Dr. Shirazi has been practicing at Emory since 2012 and primarily sees patients at Emory Heart & Vascular Center at Emory Johns Creek Hospital and Emory Heart & Vascular Center at Cumming She is passionate about educating women about how to prevent heart disease.

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Welcome Aboard : Dr. Woodhouse and Dr. Shonkoff

Emory Heart & Vascular Center is excited to welcome Dr. Sheila Woodhouse and Dr. David Shonkoff to the Emory team! Doctors, Woodhouse and Shonkoff will practice at 5 locations around Gwinnett County in Duluth (2 locations), Johns Creek, Snellville and Lawrenceville.*

The Emory Heart & Vascular Center – Gwinnett offers a comprehensive spectrum of in-office cardiac and vascular diagnostic testing and treatments. Some of the services the practice will provide cardiology patients are echocardiography, stress echocardiography, nuclear stress testing, treadmill stress testing, carotid duplex ultrasound imaging, ankle-brachial index (ABI) testing and holter and event monitoring.

Dr. Woodhouse specializes in women with heart disease, valve disease and arrhythmias, congestive heart failure, atherosclerotic heart disease and preventive cardiology, risk factor modification management and cardiac related high risk pregnancies and post pardum cardiac care. Impressively, she is triple boarded in cardiovascular imaging modalities and has particular interest in cardiac and vascular imaging.

Dr. Shonkoff specializes in congestive heart failure, heart disease prevention, vavular heart disease, congenital heart disease, refractory hypertension, and cardiac imaging.

Locations
Emory Heart & Vascular Center – Duluth
1845 Satellite Boulevard, Suite 500
Duluth, Georgia 30097

Emory Heart & Vascular Center – Johns Creek
6335 Hospital Parkway, Suite 110
Johns Creek, Georgia, 30097

Emory Heart & Vascular Center – Eastside
1608 Tree Lane, Suite 101
Snellville, Georgia 30078

Saint Joseph’s Medical Group
4855 RiverGreen Parkway
Duluth, GA 30096

Emory Heart & Vascular Center – Lawrenceville
771 Old Norcross Road
Suite 105
Lawrenceville, GA 30046

For hours of operation and to schedule an appointment please call 404-778-6670 or 404-778-6590.

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Control Your Cholesterol – Keep Your Heart Healthy!

Heart Disease PreventionDid you know that about half of American adults have cholesterol levels that are too high? It may also surprise you to know that all cholesterol is not bad. It is important to understand what the differences are because too much or not enough of one type or another can put you at risk for heart disease.

The majority of cholesterol comes from the body, and the remaining from food, specifically animal products. There are two types of cholesterol, HDL (good) and LDL (bad). These are called lipoproteins and they carry cholesterol to the cells.

When you have too much LDL cholesterol, it can combine with white blood cells and fats to create plaque in your veins and arteries. This can block blood from flowing through the arteries and lead to heart damage or failure. If the buildup of plaque ruptures, a blood clot can form and then prevent blood flow to the heart and brain, causing a heart attack or stroke.

HDL cholesterol works to your advantage to help unclog arteries that can be blocked by LDL cholesterol and it helps remove cholesterol from the blood. For heart health it is essential to have a high level of HDL cholesterol and low level of LDL cholesterol.

The recommended level for LDL cholesterol is under 160 mg/dL, for HDL cholesterol over 40 mg/dL for men and 50 mg/dLfor women, and under 150 mg/dL for triglycerides (blood fats). If your total cholesterol is over 200 mg/dL, you need to talk to your doctor and take action that may include:

  • Eat better – move towards a more healthy diet that is low in cholesterol, trans fats and saturated fats, and high in fiber (e.g. fruits and vegetables). Avoid food from animals (e.g. fatty meats, whole-milk dairy products and egg yolks). Maintain a healthy weight as a result.
  • Be active – one of the seven steps toward a healthy heart and a very important way for your body to create more good cholesterol and decrease your risk of heart-related conditions. Exercising at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week is recommended.
  • Regular screenings – detecting high cholesterol early can help you begin to lower it. Because high cholesterol has no symptoms, it is important to have it tested.
  • Work with your doctor to create the right treatment plan to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
  • Quit Smoking
  • Take medication if prescribed

Emory Healthcare is a proud sponsor of American Heart Association’s My Heart. My Life Campaign that promotes My Life Check – Life’s Simple 7. Controlling your cholesterol is one of the 7 steps to a healthier heart.

Learn more about The Emory Heart & Vascular Center’s Heart Disease Prevention Program.

About Dr. Jefferson Baer

Dr. Baer is a cardiologist at the Emory Heart & Vascular Center, and is the Director of Preventive Cardiology at Emory University Hospital Midtown. He specializes in general cardiology, lipid metabolism, preventive cardiology and valve disease. He is highly regarded in the physician community for his expertise in preventing heart disease.

 

Heart Failure – What Should I Know?

Sonjoy Laskar MD

A heart failure diagnosis may sound frightening, but with the right treatment, heart failure can be controlled. Once you are on a stable medical regimen, you can often return to a full and enjoyable life. With the recent passing of actress and icon, Elizabeth Taylor, we would like to take some time to provide some information about congestive heart failure.

Facts:

  • Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) affects nearly 5 million Americans
  • Approximately 550,000 new cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.
  • Congestive heart failure affects people of all ages, from children and young adults to the middle-aged and the elderly.
  • Almost 1.4 million persons with CHF are under 60 years of age.
  • CHF is present in 2 percent of persons age 40 to 59.
  • More than 5 percent of persons age 60 to 69 have CHF.
  • CHF annual incidence approaches 10 per 1,000 population after 65 years of age.
  • The incidence of CHF is equally frequent in men and women, and African-Americans are 1.5 times more likely to develop heart failure than Caucasians.
  • More than half of those who develop CHF die within 5 years of diagnosis.

Symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath with little exertion
  • Feeling weak or tired after little activity or exertion
  • Difficulty sleeping due to breathing problems
  • A new or different cough, especially while lying flat
  • A swollen and/or tender abdomen
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased urination at night
  • Swelling of the feet and legs

Early diagnosis and treatment for heart failure is very important. Heart failure is a chronic condition that may follow a varied and unpredictable course. If you are experiencing heart failure symptoms, you should see your cardiologist. If you have been diagnosed with heart failure, adhering to the treatment plan designed by your doctors and nurses can help you navigate this challenge. Your symptoms can be controlled with proper medical care.

About Sonjoy Laskar, MD:
Dr. Laskar joined Emory Healthcare in 2005 and has devoted his career to providing direct care to patients with heart failure, heart transplantation and ventricular assist devices, as well as to teaching residents and fellows. He is an active researcher in the areas of echocardiography and ventricular assist devices as destination therapy, and is a member of the American College of Cardiology, Heart Failure Society of America and the International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation

Understanding Heart Failure

Heart failure, put simply, is a condition in which the heart doesn’t pump as well as it should. Nearly 5 million Americans currently suffer from it, and approximately 550,000 new cases are diagnosed every year. So, why does it occur? Unfortunately there’s no straightforward answer to this question—heart failure can stem from a number of factors, including diabetes, obesity, lung disease, coronary artery disease, heart valve disease, congenital heart disease, irregular heartbeats, long standing high blood pressure and more.

A normal, healthy heart pumps plenty of oxygen-rich blood out of the heart and into the system, nourishing the entire body. Signs of heart failure enter the equation when the heart doesn’t eject blood efficiently enough to meet these oxygen demands. The condition can occur suddenly, or it may advance slowly over time.

In order to understand heart failure, we must first examine the two main types: systolic and diastolic. With every heartbeat, the heart contracts and relaxes. Systolic heart failure (the most common type) occurs when the heart doesn’t contract properly due to weakness in the heart muscle, which causes the ventricles to stretch. In the case of diastolic heart failure the heart contracts well, but is unable to relax properly, causing the muscles to thicken and harden.

Both types of heart failure render the heart unable to properly fill with blood, which can cause the blood to accumulate into the lungs, hands, abdomen, legs and feet. This “backing up” of fluid is often referred to as “congestion”, or congestive heart failure.

Symptoms of heart failure include:

-       shortness of breath with little exertion

-       weakness or fatigue with little exertion

-       difficulty sleeping

-       unfamiliar coughing

-       swollen/tender abdomen

-       loss of appetite

-       increased urination at night

-       swelling of feet and legs

The importance of early diagnosis and treatment of this condition can’t be overstated. Further, it’s critical to identify the underlying cause of heart failure in order to determine the best course of treatment, which can range from medications, to device implants to surgeries, depending on the severity of the condition.

We strongly encourage patients to take an active role in controlling their symptoms by taking their medication regularly, monitoring their weight, heart rate and blood pressure, following diet and exercise recommendations and managing stress.

Heart failure is a chronic, progressive condition; however, patients who proactively monitor their key symptoms and adhere to their treatment plans can drastically improve their outlook for the future.

Have you or someone you love been affected by heart failure? If so, please feel free to share your thoughts or questions with me in the comments.

A Special One-Year VAD Anniversary

William Shaw & Kris Wittersheim (VAD Coordinator)

In May of 2009, William Shaw, who has suffered from congestive heart failure for years, figured he had about two weeks left to live. Shaw, 72, had been in and out of the hospital for four months due to various heart-related troubles.

“I was just going down,” Mr. Shaw remembered during a recent visit to the Emory Transplant Center. “At the time, I was so weak that I couldn’t even sit up on the bed. If you sat me up, I’d fall over.”

But on May 22, 2009, Mr. Shaw underwent surgery and was implanted with a Ventricular Assist Device (VAD). The VAD procedure, discussed in detail here, is an emerging option for three types of heart failure patients: transplant candidates who are too sick to wait for a heart to become available, patients who may be heart transplant candidates but aren’t currently eligible for various reasons—such as obesity or smoking—and are getting sicker, and patients who aren’t transplant candidates due to other medical issues, or who (as in Mr. Shaw’s case) are elderly.

Simply put, the surgeons place a rotary pump under the heart (in the abdomen) to take over the function of the left side of the heart. This pump is dependent upon electricity—either batteries or AC power—at all times. The VAD does what the ailing heart can no longer do – it sends blood and oxygen to all areas of the body. Consequently, the VAD decreases heart failure symptoms, increases activity and drastically improves quality of life.

On May 18, 2010, almost one year after undergoing surgery, Mr. Shaw came in for his monthly checkup with me. So, how’s he doing? Not only is he now sitting up on his own, he’s enjoying life again. He took a hunting trip last November to South Dakota with his two sons, he works out three times a week, and he takes part in a number of retirement activities.

“My lifestyle has improved from one year ago,” Mr. Shaw said. “On a scale of 1-10, if 1 is the poorest and 10 is the best, I’ve gone from a 1 or 2 to a 7 or 8.”

In Mr. Shaw’s case, the VAD is destination therapy – meaning he’s not waiting for a heart transplant to make him better. The VAD is the cure.

Since receiving the procedure, Mr. Shaw has become a positive example for other heart transplant patients as they consider VAD surgery. He was even recently featured on a FOX 5 news report:

And when he visits Emory Clinic for his monthly check-ups, he spends time talking to other heart patients, and always asks if there is someone waiting in the hospital or being evaluated for a VAD that he may be able to talk to. His hope is to help them understand what they might be facing. His newfound independence, age, and story of recovery are an inspiration to others.

“When you’re my age, we all have things we have to work around,” Shaw said during his visit. “I’m just very thankful that it has worked out for me. They have taken care of me very well at Emory.”