Posts Tagged ‘heart conditions’

Hope For the Broken Hearted

Heartbreak, heartache, and heartbroken 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 breakup. 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 loved 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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Heart Health of Football Players Focus of Emory Expert Analysis

football250x250With the start of the American football season fast approaching, the health and wellness of players is top of mind. While most of the focus is on head and orthopedic injuries, heart health is also an important concern for these athletes.

Emory Heart & Vascular Center sports cardiologist and researcher Jonathan Kim, MD, is the author of an online American College of Cardiology (ACC) expert analysis of the heart and vascular health of elite level American football players.

Dr. Kim, an assistant professor of medicine (cardiology) in the Emory University School of Medicine, launched a sports cardiology clinic in 2014, evaluating and treating cardiovascular conditions specific to athletes of all ages and levels.

In the ACC article, entitled “Cardiovascular Issues in Elite American-Style Football Participants,” Dr. Kim examines key research findings over the last two decades related to cardiovascular outcomes and risk factors among these top athletes.

Highlights of Dr. Kim’s analysis include:

  • Although not as heavily publicized [as neurologic issues], long-term adverse cardiovascular outcomes have been demonstrated among retired, professional ASF participants.
  • To date, the compilation of evidence suggests elite-level ASF participants are at higher risk for the development of early hypertension. This risk may be greater among linemen.
  • Efforts aimed at identifying players with increased blood pressure and ensuring close monitoring of those athletes, as well as players deemed at high risk, should be considered.
  • Practitioners and athletic trainers involved in the care of ASF athletes should be aware of pre-hypertensive blood pressures measured during pre-season ASF physical assessments, and consider developing procedures for blood pressure monitoring and follow-up throughout the season.
  • Management strategies may be best focused on preventive measures such as limitations in sodium intake, minimization of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medication use, focused overall dietary assessments, and perhaps alterations in training regimens with the inclusion of more aerobic-based exercise.

Dr. Kim emphasizes the need for more research in larger cohorts of football players (including high school players) to confirm current findings and learn more about the causes and exact timeline for these changes.

He has conducted his own published research among ASF participants cited within his analysis, including a 2015 study that found after completing one full season of college football, players demonstrate relatively stiffer arteries, a precursor to hypertension, compared to other non-athletic college students.

“Future studies will help us learn more about the causes of these observed changes – possibly diet, undiagnosed sleep apnea, use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, and intense isometric physiology are all potential mechanisms,” he says.



Aortic Stenosis

The aortic valve controls the blood flow from the heart. In aortic stenosis, the valve does not open fully, restricting blood flow from the heart.The aortic valve is tremendously important, controlling blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body. In aortic stenosis, the valve does not open fully, restricting blood flow from the heart. In aortic regurgitation, the valve opening does not close completely, causing blood to leak backward into the heart.

Either of these conditions can cause the heart muscle to pump harder and blood flow to the body may decrease, which can ultimately lead to heart failure. Aortic stenosis and regurgitation may occur with age, often in those older than 70. However, in patients with other heart conditions, aortic stenosis or regurgitation can occur much earlier.

Aortic Stenosis Symptoms

Aortic stenosis and regurgitation may be mild and not produce symptoms. However, over time, the aortic valve may become narrower, resulting in a variety of symptoms including:

  • Fainting
  • Weakness or chest pain (often increasing with activity)
  • Palpitations (rapid, noticeable heart beats)
  • Chronic heart failure
  • Blood clots to the brain (stroke), intestines, kidneys, or other areas
  • High blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs (pulmonary hypertension)

Valve Treatment

Physicians at the Emory Heart & Vascular Center offer a variety of treatment options for patients with severe aortic stenosis. Physicians at Emory perform transcatheter aortic valve replacement for inoperable patients, high risk patients, as well as medium risk patients. Minimally invasive surgical aortic valve replacement can be done in those who are low-risk patients.

The results of aortic valve replacement are often excellent. During transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), Emory interventional cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons place a new valve inside the heart without stopping the heart or opening the chest. Patients often recover more quickly from this minimally invasive approach.


About Dr. Thourani

Dr. Thourani has been heavily involved in the research for structural heart and with the Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement trials. Other areas of focus are: valve disease, percutaneous and minimally invasive valve applications, biomedical engineering for treatment of new valve prosthesis and techniques, myocardial protection, coronary artery disease.
Dr. Thourani is the Professor of Surgery, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine, Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Emory Hospital Midtown, and the Co-Director of the Emory Structural Heart and Valve Center.

Simple Test Can Help Predict Future Risk for Heart Attacks

New research indicates that a blood test that is relatively simple can predict a patient’s risk of suffering a future heart attack. Physicians can determine what patients need more aggressive testing and treatment as well as those who are low – risk patients so they can avoid unnecessary tests. Before this research was completed it was not possible to differentiate a patient with heart disease who was at risk for a future heart attack versus a patient who was not likely to suffer future cardiac events. Therefore, cardiologists are now able to quickly treat the at risk patients and monitor those at lower risk.

Emory cardiologist Arshed Quyyumi, MD and Stephen E. Epstien, MD of MedStar Heart Institute are the senior authors of this research. During the research they studied over 3400 cardiology patients who had confirmed coronary artery disease or suspected disease. Each patient was followed for over 2 years.

Read the full news article and more about the new findings that were published in the Journal of American College of Cardiology.

About Arshed Quyyumi, MD

Dr. Quyyumi is a Professor, Division of Cardiology, Emory University School of Medicine, Co-Director, Emory Clinical Cardiovascular Research Institute (ECCRI)

Dr. Arshed A. Quyyumi has been involved in clinical translational research in cardiovascular diseases for over 25 years. Dr. Quyyumi received his undergraduate degree in Pharmacology and medical degree from the University of London, England. He completed his residency at Guy’s and Royal Free Hospitals in London, and cardiology fellowships at National Heart Hospital, London; Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston; and the National Institutes of Health. After completion of his residency and fellowship, he served in several capacities in the Cardiology Branch of National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, NIH in Bethesda, MD, including Senior Investigator and Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory. In 2001 he was appointed Professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiology at Emory University School of Medicine, and in 2010 he was named Co-Director of the Emory Clinical Cardiovascular Research Institute (ECCRI). Since 2005, Dr. Quyyumi has been awarded more than $9 million in research funding. He serves on the Editorial Boards of several national journals, is a member on several Scientific Advisory Boards, and is a reviewer for the NIH-NHLBI Study Sections. Dr. Quyyumi has authored more than 180 peer-reviewed publications and has been an invited speaker and session chair at numerous National and International scientific meetings and conferences.

Dr. Quyyumi’s research focus includes vascular biology, angiogenesis, progenitor cell biology, mechanisms of myocardial ischemia, and the role of genetic and environmental risks on vascular disease. Other interests have spanned the fields of personalized medicine and disparities in cardiovascular diseases. During his academic career, Dr. Quyyumi has carried out more than 50 NIH, industry-funded, or investigator-initiated projects, including numerous clinical trials.

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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.

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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Join us for a HeartWise Heart Disease Prevention Event in November!

The HeartWise℠ Risk Reduction Program Lecture Series 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.

Join us for a HeartWise Heart Disease Prevention Event in November! By Kathy Lee Bishop DPT, MS, CCS; Manager, Emory HeartWise Risk Reduction Program

You can also register online here!

ABC’s of Minerals, Cheryl Williams, RD/LD
Monday, November 5, 12pm – 12:30pm

WomenHeart of Atlanta: Support Group
Monday, November 12, 12pm – 12:45pm

♥ Do you Know Your Medications?
Thursday, November 15, 8:30am – 9:00am

Got Rhythm? Basic EKGs
Maria Pacheco
Friday, November 16, 12pm – 12:30pm

Advanced Directives for Healthcare and Living Wills
William Sanders, BA, JD, LLM
Monday, November 26, 12pm – 12:30pm

Healthy Eating, Cheryl Williams, RD/LD
Monday, November 29, 8:30am – 9:00am

Healthy Holiday Eating, Cheryl Williams, RD/LD
Monday, December 3, 12pm – 12:30pm

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.

*If you would like to purchase a t-shirt or calendar where the proceeds go to the HeartWise scholarship fund which allows patients who run into financial challenges continue the wellness and prevention please call 404-778-2850.

Sign up for the November’s Heartwise Events today!

Surviving an Aortic Dissection: A Patient Survivor’s Story

Karthik Kasirajan, MD

Karthik Kasirajan, MD

In his last blog post, Dr. Veeraswamy outlined what aortic dissection is, what the symptoms are and what you can do to prevent it. Although it is best to detect aortic dissections early, it is possible to survive one. Emory Healthcare patient, Gene Winfrey is a living example. At another local hospital Gene was told he wouldn’t survive surgery to repair the aortic dissection. But Gene is tenacious and decided to schedule an appointment at Emory and he is glad he did. Gene not only survived surgery he is thriving and traveling all over the country as an evangelist. Gene says, “I tell people everywhere I go about Emory and about what happened to me. I am living proof about what happened.”

As mentioned in the last aortic dissection blog, men ages 60 – 70 are most likely to have an aortic dissection and it is relatively uncommon but it is the most common aortic emergency we see at the Emory Heart & Vascular Center. Most patients come in urgently with severe chest or abdominal pain. If not recognized and treated immediately, the tear will go through blood vessel and it is unlikely the patient will survive.

Gene knew he needed help and needed it quickly. We explained to him that if the outer layer of the aorta burst, he would have little chance of living through the dissection. We were adamant that the stent needed to be put in right away.

Luckily for Gene, treatments have changed from the past so he was a candidate for a more minimally invasive method to treat the dissection called endostents. In the past the only way to treat an aortic dissection was through open surgery. The patient benefits from the less invasive ways of performing surgery and is typically able to get home more quickly and return to work sooner with limited complications. Emory is unique in that we have access to devices that are not yet on the market.

Gene had run the Peachtree Road Race 27 straight times before this and wanted to make sure he could maintain his active lifestyle that included riding horses, playing golf and playing tennis.  I advised Gene that he could do whatever he feels like doing, and he is doing just that. He is one of the most active 88-year-old persons  I have ever met!!

Gene summarizes his experience at Emory as follows “They (the other hospital) said we can’t do it. You can’t live through it. I came here and Dr. K said you can. I am 88 years old and still living. I advise anyone to come to Emory, I think it is the greatest in the world.”

Check out our video about Gene and his story below, or visit our website to learn more about Aortic Dissection & Gene’s story:

About Karthik Kasirajan, MD:
Dr. Kasirajan specializes in surgery and vascular surgery, and has been practicing at Emory since 2003. Several of his areas of interest include peripheral arterial disease, endovascular surgery, abdominal and aortic aneurysm, vascular surgery, thrombotic disease, and stroke. Dr. Kasirajan holds many organizational leadership memberships, including the European Society for Vascular Surgery, International College of Surgeons, and the Peripheral Vascular Surgical Society, and is widely published in publications such as the Journal of Endovascular Therapy and the Journal of Vascular Surgery.

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.

Increase Awareness of Heart Disease in Women – Wear Red February 4th

Heart Disease AwarenessFebruary is American Heart Month. Almost everyone knows someone who has been affected by heart disease, as heart disease is the number one killer in America. Help increase awareness of heart disease by wearing red on Friday, February 4! Women from all over the country are banding together and pledging to wear red on this special day. Be one of them!

Symptoms of heart disease in women are very different than in men. Women are not as likely to recognize the symptoms and seek immediate treatment. Women can learn to recognize symptoms of heart attacks so they are empowered and can potentially save their own life or save the life of someone else. Some of the most common symptoms of heart attacks in women are:

• Burning sensation in the chest or upper abdomen
• Cold sweat
• Dizziness
• Discomfort such as pressure, aches and/or tightness that can come and go
• Irregular heartbeat
• Nausea
• Pain or pressure in the back or high chest
• Pain or discomfort in one or both arms
• Shortness of breath
• Weakness
• Extreme fatigue

Experts agree that women should become more assertive in their heart care. Attend one of Emory’s seminars during heart month to learn how to live heart smart.

Please feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions or thoughts regarding any of the content listed above or the seminar series!

Are You at Risk for an Aortic Aneurysm?

Emory Heart & Vascular

An Aortic aneurysm is a serious vascular condition and a leading cause of sudden death in men over 60. Therefore, it is important that we discuss what aortic aneurysms are, possible symptoms and how to treat them.

What are aortic aneurysms?

Aneurysms are abnormal bulges (ballooning) in the wall of an artery. Many aneurysms occur in the aorta (the main artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body). Since the section with the aneurysm is overstretched, it can burst. If the aorta bursts, it usually causes serious bleeding. If not treated very quickly a burst aorta can quickly lead to death.

There are two main types of aortic aneurysms:

  1. Thoracic aortic aneurysms – these aneurysms occur in the part of the aorta that runs through the chest.
  2. Abdominal aortic aneurysms – these aneurysms occur in the part of the aorta that runs through the abdomen.

What are causes/symptoms of aortic aneurysm?

Some medical problems like high blood pressure or hardening of the arteries weaken the artery walls and can result in a weak aortic wall that will bulge.
Unfortunately aortic aneurysms do not usually cause symptoms so we recommend screening tests for aneurysms for men who are in the following categories:

  • 65 to 75 and have smoked in his lifetime or
  • 60 years old and have a first-degree relative (father or brother) who has had an aneurysm.

Some people say they have belly, chest, or back discomfort that may come and go or stay constant. If not diagnosed and treated the aortic aneurysm can lead to other problems such as blood clots that lead to stroke or blood clots that form an aortic aneurysm in the belly or legs.

If you are an older male with high blood pressure, a family history of abdominal aortic aneurysms in first degree relatives that you are at risk for an aortic aneurysm and have been a smoker or alcohol drinker you could be at risk.

If you think you have an aneurysm, we recommend you call your physician and schedule a screening test. Your physician will likely perform an ultrasound, a CT scan, or an MRI to find out where it is and how big it is.

About Karthik Kasirajan, MD:
Dr. Kasirajan specializes in surgery and vascular surgery, and has been practicing at Emory since 2003. Several of his areas of interest include peripheral arterial disease, endovascular surgery, abdominal and aortic aneurysm, vascular surgery, thrombotic disease, and stroke. Dr. Kasirajan holds many organizational leadership memberships, including the European Society for Vascular Surgery, International College of Surgeons, and the Peripheral Vascular Surgical Society, and is widely published in publications such as the Journal of Endovascular Therapy and the Journal of Vascular Surgery.