Posts Tagged ‘coronary heart disease’

Types of Cardiovascular Disease

heart-word-cloud 9-4Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. But did you know there are more than 50 types of heart disease? Heart disease is actually an umbrella term that includes a number of conditions affecting the structures or function of the heart, some of which are genetic, and many of which are the result of lifestyle choices.

Types of Cardiovascular Disease:

Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is the most common form of heart disease. It occurs when the arteries supplying blood to the heart narrow or harden, which is known as atherosclerosis. CHD is usually the cause of heart attack, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease. Major risk factors include: high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, diabetes, advancing age, inherited (genetic) disposition.

Heart Attack – Also called “myocardial infarction,” a heart attack happens when blood flow to the heart is severely reduced or cut off, due to the hardening and narrowing of the coronary arteries from the build-up of fat, cholesterol, and other substances, known together as “plaque.” A blood clot forms around the plaque, blocking blood flow. This results in permanent damage or death of part of the heart muscle. The most common symptoms of a heart attack are:

  • Chest pressure or pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, back, arms or shoulder
  • Feeling weak, lightheaded, or nauseous

Arrhythmia – “Arrhythmia” means your heartbeat is irregular. It doesn’t necessarily mean your heart is beating too fast or too slow. It just means it’s out of its normal rhythm. When the heart doesn’t beat normally, it can’t pump blood effectively to the lungs, brain, and other organs, causing them to potentially shut down or become damaged. You could have an arrhythmia even if your heart is healthy, as it can be a side effect of medicines that you are taking or a manifestation of an abnormality elsewhere in your body.

Heart failure is a serious condition that commonly develops slowly over time, and is the leading cause of hospitalization in people older than 65. Heart failure is a bit of a misnomer, since it does not actually mean the heart has stopped working; rather, the heart pumps weaker than normal, causing blood to move through the body at a slower rate and increases pressures in the heart. The weakened heart muscle has to work overtime to keep up with the body’s demands, which can leave a person tired. Some of the symptoms of heart failure:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing when lying down
  • Swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet
  • General fatigue and weakness

Congenital Heart Disease is a category of heart disease in which congenital heart defects are present at birth. Defects occur when the fetus is developing and may produce symptoms at birth or during childhood, while others aren’t discovered until a person is an adult. Some causes of congenital heart defects are:

  • Chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome
  • Maternal viral infection in the first trimester of pregnancy
  • Maternal drug or alcohol abuse during pregnancy, and certain medications such as Warfarin

Heart Muscle Disease (Cardiomyopathy) is a progressive disease that causes the heart to be abnormally enlarged, thickened and/or stiffened. Cardiomyopathy limits the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively, and often leads to heart conditions like arrhythmias or heart failure.

While there is a wide range of heart and vascular conditions associated with cardiovascular disease, the good news is that many types of heart disease can be prevented with healthy habits. You can reduce your risk of certain types of heart disease, such as heart attack, coronary artery disease and peripheral artery disease by doing the following:

  • Eating a low sodium diet
  • Eating more fresh fruit and vegetables while limiting foods high in saturated fat
  • Exercising at least 3 – 5 times a week for 30 minutes a day
  • Stop smoking!
  • Controlling your diabetes and high blood pressure

If you suspect you have heart condition, talk with a trained Emory Healthcare doctor, who can recommend or administer screening or diagnostic tests.

About Dr. Danny Eapen, MD

eapen-dannyDanny Eapen, MD  is an Assistant Professor at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Eapen specializes in preventive cardiology and adult heart disease. He pursued a degree in medicine from the University of Miami, Miami FL, and his internship and residency in Internal Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. He also completed his research and general cardiology fellowship at Emory University.

How to Prevent Coronary Heart Disease

Coronary Heart Disease PreventionCoronary heart disease (CHD) is the buildup of plaque within the heart’s arteries, which causes a decrease in blood flow. When a coronary artery becomes fully blocked and blood flow has stopped, a heart attack results. As you may know, heart attacks may permanently damage the heart muscle.

Risk factors for CHD include: high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, family history, diabetes, smoking, obesity, being post-menopausal for women and being older than 45 for men. The more risk factors you have, the greater your chance of developing CHD.

CHD and heart attacks are preventable. Living a healthy lifestyle with good nutrition, stress reduction, weight management and physical activity is key. CHD may begin in childhood, and initial plaque buildup may be detected as early as the teenage years.

According to the National Institute of Health, common symptoms of coronary heart disease include shortness of breath and angina (pain or a feeling of increased pressure in the chest). Less common symptoms include nausea, sweating, fatigue, dizziness and decreased exercise tolerance.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately.

If you would like to make an appointment to be evaluated for coronary heart disease by an interventional cardiologist, please call HealthConnection at 404-778-7777.

For heart-healthy recipe ideas, click here.

About Dr. Chang

George Chang, MDGeorge Chang MD, FACC is a board certified interventional cardiologist practicing at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital (ESJH). He has been at ESJH since 1999 and is currently serving as Chief of Physician Services for Emory Clinic at Emory Saint Joseph’s. He completed his undergraduate studies at Baylor University and Cardiovascular Fellowship at Emory University. He has an appointment as Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine.

Take Action Now to Control Your Weight: Your Heart will Thank You

Lose Weight Healthy HeartDo you know that in the adult population over 66 percent  of people are overweight and over 33 percent are considered obese? In fact, obesity is now considered a risk factor for heart disease, and if you have too much fat you are at higher risk for heart disease. Health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are common in the overweight population.

It is important to maintain a healthy weight to maintain a healthy heart. How would it feel if you carried a 20 pound weight around every day? By shedding extra weight you are also lessening the burden on your heart, lungs, blood vessels and skeleton. You will be surprised by how much more energy you have when you cut your weight down to a manageable place.

How to lose weight

If you are overweight, you can reduce your risk for heart disease by successfully losing weight and keeping it off. You also can produce a dramatic blood pressure reduction and lower cholesterol in appropriate ways by exercising, and by eating more fruits and vegetables. Losing as few as five or 10 pounds can provide a meaningful impact on your heart health.

Know Your Calorie Needs

The first step in losing weight is determining how many calories you need to survive. This number is different for everyone, as our bodies all function differently. A 200-pound man can consume much more food without gaining weight than a 100-pound woman. You can calculate this number for yourself.

Track Calories

By tracking what you are eating each day, you can learn a lot about your eating habits. Estimate the amount of calories you burn each day and keep track of the amount of food calories you’re eating as well. If you balance what you are putting in with what is being burned in exercise you will maintain your weight! If you burn more calories than you eat in calories, you will lose weight!

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. Losing weight is one of the seven steps to a healthier heart. To view some of the other blog posts with ways to improve your heart health, visit the older posts in the Emory Heart & Vascular Heart blog.

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

About Dr. Cornelius Flowers

Dr. Cornelius FlowersDr. Flowers is a cardiologist at the Emory Heart & Vascular Center. He practices at the Emory Heart & Vascular Center at Hillandale and the Emory Heart & Vascular Center at Decatur. He specializes in cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension and preventive cardiology. He is very active in the Dekalb County community and is passionate about educating individuals about how to prevent heart disease. To contact Dr. Flowers, please call 404-778-8100 for the Hillandale office and 404-296-1256 for the Decatur office.

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.


Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease: Attend a HeartWise Risk Reduction Lecture

May Heart Disease Prevention Lectures at Emory

We are excited to announce the May lectures in the HeartWiseSM Risk Reduction Program Lecture Series. HeartWiseSM programming aims to reduce people’s risk of heart disease through education and interaction. In addition to serving patients who currently suffer from heart disease, we also provide help to individuals who could be at risk for heart complications in the future including those who smoke, do not exercise or have high blood pressure.

Admission is free and everyone is welcome! Call 404-778-2850 to reserve your seat, or you can sign up for a HeartWise lecture online.

Heart Healthy Supermarket Shopping
Cheryl Williams, RD/LD
Monday, May 9, 2011
11:45 AM – 12:15 PM

Jane Whitmer, RN
Monday, May 16, 2011
11:45 AM – 12:15 PM

High Blood Pressure and Nutrition
Cheryl Williams, RD/LD
Thursday, May 19, 2011
11:45 AM – 12:15 PM

Diabetes Prevention
Cheryl Williams, RD/LD
Monday, May 23, 2011
11:45 AM – 12:15 PM

Lectures are held at The Emory Clinic, 1525 Clifton Road Northeast, on the 5th Floor Conference Room.
Please feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions or thoughts regarding any of the lectures.

We look forward to seeing all of you there!

Coronary Artery Disease Treatment – A Patient Story

Michael Halkos, MDMichael Armstrong joined the gym to get some aerobic exercise and lose some weight. One day, he was walking on a treadmill when he noticed pain in his chest as well as pain that went up into his throat. The pain then began radiating down his left arm.

Michael has worked in the health care industry for many years, so he quickly realized what he was experiencing could be signs of a heart attack, and he consulted his primary care physician. Michael told his physician about the symptoms and the physician quickly referred him to me at Emory University Hospital Midtown for an innovative procedure called hybrid coronary revascularization.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post about hybrid coronary revascularization, this procedure is typically performed on a patient who has blockage in the artery in the front of the heart and one other blood vessel with disease in it. This unique approach is a best of both world’s strategy where we combine durability of surgery with the minimally invasive nature of a procedure called stenting. Optimal therapy with this minimally invasive approach translates into shorter recovery time, potentially fewer complications and a quicker return to work. Emory is one of only a few centers in the nation offering this procedure.

Michael Armstrong sums up his experience:

“I didn’t know what to expect, this was my first hospitalization in my life but I was comfortable getting my heart care at Emory University Hospital Midtown. Dr. Halkos had done more than 100 robotic surgeries so I was very impressed with that. Dr. Halkos knows the road you are about to take together is treacherous and comes across as very knowledgeable while still friendly and empathetic.  Now shortly after the surgery, I am back to full exercise, I walk around the neighborhood with my wife, and even last weekend I walked to the top of Stone Mountain with a friend. That made me feel good. I know Emory talks about quality patient and family centered care, but actually experiencing it was pretty wonderful.”

Watch Michael’s story in this video.

Do you have questions or feedback? If so, please leave them in the comments section below.

About Michael Halkos, MD
Dr. Halkos is a cardiothoracic surgeon at the Emory Heart & Vascular Center. He specializes in minimally invasive adult cardiac surgery. He is leading the innovative Emory work with the hybrid coronary revascularization procedure being performed at Emory University Hospital Midtown. He finished his Medical School, Residency and Fellowship at Emory University School of Medicine and is a member of the American Medical Association.

New Treatment for CAD – Hybrid Coronary Revascularization

hybrid revascularization treatment for CADIn our last blog, Dr. John Douglas discussed Coronary Artery Disease (CAD). Now, we will cover a new procedure to treat CAD, called Hybrid Revascularization, that we are performing at the Emory Heart & Vascular Center.

Currently, Emory is one of the few centers in the country offering this procedure. Standard guidelines call for patients with blockages in the left main artery (the artery that provides most of the blood to the heart) to undergo bypass surgery.

Hybrid revascularization’s advantage is a combination of coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG) and percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). Emory physicians are leaders in performing these procedures “off-pump” in a minimally invasive fashion, without breaking open the chest.

The minimally invasive CABG procedure uses robotic-assisted techniques that allow surgery to be performed using small incisions between the ribs rather than through a midline incision dividing the sternum.

The recovery from robotic assisted CABG is shorter and expected to have fewer complications. Impressively, most patients are able to leave the hospital within three to four days and return to full activity, including work, in two to three weeks rather than the two-month recovery generally required following traditional CABG.

This approach is a “best of both worlds strategy”- minimally invasive off-pump left internal mammary artery (LIMA) graft plus a stent placed via ultrasound from the left main to the left circumflex artery.

For more a case study about this procedure view the March issue of The Chamber, our heart and vascular e-newsletter.

About Dr. Halkos
Dr. Halkos is a cardiothoracic surgeon at the Emory Heart & Vascular Center. He specializes in cardiovascular disease, coronary artery bypass surgery and valve repair/replacement. He finished his Medical School, Residency and Fellowship at Emory University School of Medicine. He is a member of the American Medical Association.

What Should I Know About Coronary Heart Disease

John Douglas, MD

Heart month 2011 has passed, but it’s always important to keep heart health on the top of your priority list throughout the year. In March, we will focus on coronary heart disease and a unique treatment option Emory physicians are performing for this disease. Let’s start with some background information about coronary artery disease, also referred to here as CAD.

CAD is the most common type of coronary disease. Some of the risk factors for the disease are smoking, hypertension, obesity and diabetes. If you are at risk for coronary heart disease, we recommend lifestyle changes such as:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Quit smoking, or avoid smoky areas
  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a healthy diet
    • Reduce intake of animal-based foods and increase plant-based foods
    • Increase fish consumption to increase omega-3 fatty acid intake

Some traditional methods of treatment include:

  • Medical management such as:
    • Cholesterol lowering medications
    • Hypertension reduction medications
    • Aspirin
  • Angioplasty
  • Stents (bare-metal or drug-eluting)
  • Coronary artery bypass
  • Heart transplant (last option)

In the next blog post by Dr. Michael Halkos, we will discuss more fully a newer treatment option that’s an alternative to traditional bypass surgery called coronary hybrid revascularization. The procedure is a less invasive procedure that combines heart surgery with heart stenting. Emory is one of a few centers in the nation studying this procedure.

Do you have questions about coronary artery disease? If so, visit the Emory Healthcare cardiology website at or feel free to ask away in the comments section below.

About John Douglas, MD
Dr. John Douglas is an interventional cardiologist at the Emory Heart & Vascular Center. He is also a Professor of Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine and Director of the Interventional Cardiology and Cardiac Cath Lab at Emory University Hospital. He is one of the most tenured Emory cardiologists, beginning his career in 1974. He has been recognized in America’s Top Doctors, Atlanta’s Top Doctors and The Best Doctors in America.

What is LDL Apheresis?

LDL apheresis is a procedure that targets and removes harmful Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) from a patient’s bloodstream, returning other blood components such as blood cells, proteins, antibodies and HDL back into the body. In essence, it “washes” the bad cholesterol out of the plasma of patients who are at high risk for atherosclerotic disease complications resulting from elevated cholesterol. Emory Heart & Vascular is the only Georgia facility that offers the procedure, which has proven to be effective, safe, and unique.

A single treatment of LDL apheresis has proven to lower LDL-C as much as 83%, with minimal impact on other plasma components such as HDL-C and albumin. Additionally, patients respond to it very well—no other procedure has the ability to selectively target a LDL-C treatment goal.

In order to be eligible for the treatment, the FDA stipulates that patients must first be on maximum medication and diet therapy for a minimum of 6 months, and meet the following criteria:

–       LDL cholesterol greater than 200 mg/di and documented coronary heart disease

–       LDL cholesterol greater than 300 mg/dl without coronary heart disease

This procedure has been FDA approved since 1996—since then, there have been over 25,000 treatments performed across the nation. Fortunately, most insurance policies cover LDL apheresis.

This video features Peggy Vardeman of Gainesville, one of the first patients at Emory to undergo LDL apheresis:

If you have any questions about LDL apheresis, or know anyone who could benefit from this procedure, please let me know in the comments section.

About Dr. Laurence Sperling, MD:

Dr. Sperling specializes in internal medicine and cardiology—his areas of clinical interest are cardiac catheterization, cardiac rehabilitation, general cardiology, echocardiogram, lipid metabolism, and electron beam computed tomography. Dr. Sperling has been practicing with Emory since 1997, and has received various awards from the American College of Cardiology, the American Heart Association Council, and Emory University Hospital. He serves as medical director for a number of unique programs at Emory including the HeartWise Risk Reduction Program, InterVent Atlanta, Staying Aloft, Emory’s LDL aperesis program, and has served as special consultant to The Centers for Disease Control. Dr. Sperling has been voted one of America’s Top Doctors, and has been featured often on local and national TV, newspaper, radio, and magazines.