Posts Tagged ‘heart disease risk factors’

The Role of Gender in Heart Disease

mom-daughter-gran (1)Every minute in the United States, someone’s wife, mother, daughter or sister dies from heart disease, stroke or another form of cardiovascular disease (CVD) Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined. Heart disease causes 1 in 3 women’s deaths each year, killing approximately one woman every minute.

An estimated 43 million women in the U.S. are affected by heart disease. While 1 in 31 American women dies from breast cancer each year, 1 in 3 dies of heart disease. (AHA Go Red statistics)

For years, heart disease was thought of as a “man’s disease,” but more women than men die of heart disease each year. Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease and the gap between men and women’s survival continues to widen. Despite increased awareness over the past decade, only 54% of women recognize that heart disease is their number 1 killer [2].

Risks

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer in women. Yet, only 1 in 5 American women believe that heart disease is her greatest health threat. Ninety percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease.

The largest risk factors of heart disease affect both men and women. The good news is that many of the major contributing factors can be controlled, including:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Tobacco use
  • Raised blood glucose (diabetes)
  • Physical inactivity
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Cholesterol/lipids
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Mental stress and depression
  • Pregnancy complications such as high blood pressure or diabetes during pregnancy

There are also other risk factors that are not modifiable such as age and family history. Although men and women share a lot of the same risks, your gender can play a role in heart disease. Some risks that vary by gender are the following:

  • Age – men tend to develop coronary artery disease earlier in life. However, after age 65 the risk of heart disease in women is almost the same as in men.
  • Women, especially younger women (<65 yrs), have worse outcome after a heart attack.
  • Diabetes is a particularly important risk factor for developing heart disease in women. The symptoms of heart disease in diabetic women can be very subtle. Women may have mild heartburn or breathlessness during physical exertion rather than chest pain that is considered typical in men or in people without diabetes.
  • Unhealthy behaviors – Men tend to engage in certain high-risk behaviors that can have adverse effects on the heart, such as tobacco use and alcohol consumption. 20.5% of adult men smoke cigarettes compared to 15.3% of women, putting men at a higher risk [3]. Similarly, studies have shown that high-volume drinking is consistently more prevalent among men than among women [4].

Symptoms

The most common symptoms of heart attack in women is some type of pressure, discomfort or pain, in the chest. However, sometimes, women may have a heart attack without chest pains. Women are more likely than men to have heart attack symptoms unrelated to chest pain, such as:

  • Neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back or abdominal discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Right arm pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Unusual fatigue

These symptoms can be more subtle, like pressure or tightness, than the crushing chest pain often associated with heart attacks in men. Women’s symptoms may be triggered by mental stress and may occur more often when women are resting, or even when they’re asleep.

About the Author

parashar-susmitaSusmita Parashar, MD, MPH, MS, FAHA, FACC is a Board certified cardiologist at the Emory Heart and Vascular Center and Associate Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Parashar is an educator and cardiovascular outcomes researcher with emphasis on women and heart disease, preventive cardiology and heart disease in cancer patients. She has received several grants and awards from the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the American Heart Association (AHA) to conduct research on women and heart disease. Dr. Parashar was awarded the AHA Trudy Bush Fellowship for Cardiovascular Research in Women’s Health Award to recognize outstanding work in the area of women’s health and cardiovascular disease

 

Sources
[1] CDC.gov – Heart Disease Facts
American Heart Association – 2015 Heart Disease and Stroke Update, compiled by AHA, CDC, NIH and other governmental sources

[2] CDC.gov – Women and Heart Disease Fact Sheet. http://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fs_women_heart.htm

[3] Center for Disease Control (CDC). “Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults in the United States.” http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/adult_data/cig_smoking/

[4] Wisnack et al. “Gender and Alcohol Consumption: Patterns From the Multinational Genacis Project.”
Addiction. 2009 Sep; 104(9): 1487–1500. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2844334/

[5] CDC.gov – Men and Heart Disease Fact Sheet. http://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fs_men_heart.htm

Heart Disease in Men

heartdiseas_8-5Heart disease is one of the leading health risks facing men today. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States, killing 307,225 men in 2009—that’s 1 in every 4 male deaths [1]. According to the American Heart Association, more than one in three adult men has heart disease, and men comprise more than 48 percent of the deaths that occur due to heart conditions [2].

When we think of heart disease in men, we tend to think of coronary artery disease—the narrowing of the arteries leading to the heart—but heart disease is actually an umbrella term that includes a number of conditions affecting the structures or function of the heart. These conditions can include:

• Abnormal heart rhythms or arrhythmias
• Heart valve disease
• Heart failure
• Congenital heart disease
• Heart muscle disease (cardiomyopathy)
• Aorta disease

Signs & Symptoms

You’d think that with such a serious disease you’d have significant warning signs, but you may be developing heart disease without knowing it. In fact, half of the men who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms [3]. Even if you have no symptoms, you may still be at risk for heart disease.

The first sign of heart disease is often a heart attack or other serious event, but there are a few key signs to be aware of that can help recognize problems before they progress. In the early stages, symptoms include but are not limited to:

• Difficulty catching your breath after moderate physical exertion
• Erectile dysfunction – studies found that even minor erection difficulties could be indicators for heart disease. Erection difficulties are mainly caused by blockages in the small arteries that supply the penis. This is a good indicator of what is happening in other larger arteries in the body, including those that supply the heart.
• A sense of discomfort and/or pain in your chest
• Unexplained pain in your upper torso, neck, and jaw
• A change in your extremities (ie: pain, numbness, tingling)

Risks

Apart from the above symptoms, there are certain risk factors that can make you more prone to heart disease. The good news is that many of the major contributing factors can be controlled, including:

• Hypertension (high blood pressure)
• Tobacco use
• Raised blood glucose (diabetes)
• Physical inactivity
• Unhealthy diet
• Cholesterol/lipids
• Overweight and obesity

There are also other risk factors that are not modifiable such as age, gender and family history.

What You Can Do

Lots of things affect whether you get heart disease, and you control many of them. Some immediate steps you can take are the following:

Keep an eye on your blood pressure. In terms of global attributable deaths, the leading CVD risk factor is raised blood pressure (to which 13 per cent of global deaths is attributed). High blood pressure is now classified as a blood pressure greater than 140/90 in people under 60, and greater than 150/90 in people over 60.

Stop tobacco use. Tobacco use is second in factors leading to attributable deaths, with 9 percent attributed [4]. More than 20 of every 100 adult men (20.5%) smoke cigarettes compared to 15.3% of women, putting men at a higher risk [5].

Work on your weight. Many Americans are overweight. Bringing your weight to a healthy level is a plus for your heart. This can be accomplished by being physically active and enjoying healthy eating.

Maintain your social and emotional health. Cut out as much stress as possible. Find ways to ease the stress you can’t avoid. Exercise, meditation and talking to people you trust are three ideas to start with.

Limit your alcohol use. Anything more than moderate drinking is considered unhealthy. What’s moderate drinking? Up to 1 glass a day for women, and up to 2 glasses a day for men.

Lastly, consult your physician. Your doctor can help you develop healthy habits, prescribe appropriate medications, and figure out if your family’s medical history puts you at risk. Even if you have heart disease, you can live a healthier, more active life by learning about your disease and treatments and by becoming an active participant in your care.

About the Author

sperling-laurenceLaurence S. Sperling, M.D., FACC, FAHA, FACP is the Founder and Director of The Heart Disease Prevention Center at Emory. He is currently Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) at the Emory University School of Medicine and Professor of Global Health in the Hubert Department of Global Health in the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. Dr. Sperling also serves as the current President of The American Society for Preventive Cardiology.

 

Sources:
1. Kochanek KD, Xu JQ, Murphy SL, Miniño AM, Kung HC. Deaths: final data for 2009[PDF-2M]. National vital statistics reports. 2011;60(3).
2. American Heart Association. “Statistical Fact Sheet. 2013 Update.” http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@sop/@smd/documents/downloadable/ucm_319573.pdf
3. Roger VL, Go AS, Lloyd-Jones DM, Benjamin EJ, Berry JD, Borden WB, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2012 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2012;125(1):e2–220.
4. World Heart Federation. “Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors.” http://www.world-heart-federation.org/press/fact-sheets/cardiovascular-disease-risk-factors/
5. Center for Disease Control (CDC). “Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults in the United States.” http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/adult_data/cig_smoking/

Takeaways from Dr. Lundberg’s Hypertension Chat

Hypertension Live ChatThanks to everyone who joined us Tuesday, June 23, for our live online chat on “Things You Never Knew About Your Blood Pressure” hosted by Dr. Gina Lundberg of the Emory Women’s Heart Center!

To prevent hypertensive heart disease, it’s important that you consistently keep your blood pressure nice and low. Dr. Lundberg noted that the good news is that 80% of all cardiovascular deaths could be prevented with better lifestyle – healthy eating and exercise – and better blood pressure monitoring, and discussed ways to help you achieve this goal.

If you missed this chat, be sure to check out the full list of questions and answers on the hypertension chat transcript.

Here are just a few highlights from the chat:

Question: Are there any foods I should incorporate into my diet to control high blood pressure?

Gina Lundberg, MDDr. Lundberg: There is no one food you can eat to lower your blood pressure. The best thing you can do is to make a change to your diet as a whole. I’d recommend following the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet. This diet is very high in fruits and veggies (potassium and magnesium). Potassium correlates to lower blood pressure. You can find more info about the DASH Diet here.

 

Question: Is it normal for my blood pressure and heart to race? I exercise regularly.

Gina Lundberg, MDDr. Lundberg: Yes, when you exercise routinely your heart rate will go up slower but you will still get to a peak heart rate with prolonged exercise. Many people feel their heart is racing with sudden activities such as walking up the stairs, but this is common as there is no warm up prior to the activity.

 

Question: How much does stress really impact blood pressure?

Gina Lundberg, MDDr. Lundberg: Stress can raise your blood pressure and your heart rate from internal release of adrenaline. Some people over-respond to their adrenaline and get dangerously high blood pressures very suddenly. An exercise stress test can simulate stress on the body and help determine if blood pressure is getting dangerously high. Sudden surges in blood pressure can cause stroke or heart attack. Chronic stress can lead to chronically elevated mild to moderate hypertension which can also be dangerous for your eyes, brain, heart, and kidneys.

Thanks again to everyone who joined us live for the chat! If you have additional questions for Dr. Lundberg, feel free to leave a comment in our comments area below.

Things You Never Knew About Your Blood Pressure

blood pressure live chatYou’ve probably heard high blood pressure, or hypertension, called the “silent killer” because it can damage your arteries and organs without you ever realizing something is wrong. Not only can it damage your heart, but it can also cause stroke, kidney damage, vision loss, memory loss, erectile dysfunction, fluid buildup in the lungs and angina.

Join us on Tuesday, June 23, at 12:00 p.m. for a live, interactive web chat about “Things You Never Knew About Your Blood Pressure.” Dr. Gina Lundberg will be available to answer questions and discuss various topics about high blood pressure. For instance, did you know that common over the counter medication can increase your blood pressure? Did you know you can have high blood pressure and never experience any symptoms at all?

During this interactive web chat, you’ll be able to ask questions and get real-time answers from our Emory Healthcare professional.

Register now for our June 23 chat:

Chat Sign Up

About Dr. Lundberg

Gina Lundberg, MDGina Price Lundberg, MD, FACC , is the clinical director of the Emory Women’s Heart Center and a preventive cardiologist with Emory Clinic in East Cobb. Dr. Lundberg is an assistant professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine.

She is a national American Heart Association (AHA) spokesperson and was a board member for the Atlanta chapter from 2001 to 2007. Dr. Lundberg was the Honoree for the AHA’s North Fulton/Gwinnett County Heart Ball for 2006. In 2009, she was awarded the Women with Heart Award at the Go Red Luncheon for outstanding dedication to the program. She is also a Circle of Red founding member and Cor Vitae member for the AHA.

She has been interviewed on the subject of heart disease in women by multiple media outlets, including CNN and USA Today. In 2007, Governor Sonny Perdue appointed Dr. Lundberg to the advisory board of the Georgia Department of Women’s Health, where she served until 2011. In 2005, Atlanta Woman magazine awarded Dr. Lundberg the Top 10 Innovator Award for Medicine. In 2008, Atlanta Woman named her one of the Top 25 Professional Women to Watch and the only woman in the field of medicine.

Dr. Lundberg attended the Medical College of Georgia and trained in internal medicine at Atlanta Medical Center (Georgia Baptist). She completed her cardiology fellowship at Rush University in Chicago. She has been in practice in Atlanta since 1994. She is board certified in cardiology and internal medicine and was recertified in both in 2002. Dr. Lundberg has two children and considers motherhood her first and foremost career. Dr. Lundberg has lived most of her life in the metro Atlanta area.

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.

Why is Screening for Heart Disease Important?

Cardiovascular ScreeningDid you know that Emory Healthcare offers preventive health and wellness screenings throughout the metro Atlanta area? Our goal is to improve the health of our patients and provide communities greater access to important screening services, as well as the Emory Healthcare Network of physicians and providers.

Emory Women’s Heart Center is a unique program dedicated to the diagnosis, screening, treatment and prevention of heart disease in women. The Center, led by nationally renowned women’s heart specialist Gina Lundberg, MD, provides comprehensive heart screenings for patients at risk for cardiovascular disease as well as a full range of treatment options for those already diagnosed with heart disease.

Why is heart disease screening important?

Screenings are often the best way to identify risk factors that may contribute to heart disease. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), few people have “ideal risk levels on all screening tests. However, if you do have test results that are less than ideal, it doesn’t mean you’re destined to develop a serious cardiovascular disease. On the contrary, it means you’re in position to begin changing your health in a positive way.”

What does a heart disease screening entail?

Emory Women’s Heart Center offers three screening options which are based on the patient’s needs:

Plan A: ($75) Initial Assessment for All Women
Your initial screening includes a review for any family history of cardiovascular disease and a comprehensive global cardiac risk assessment that includes your age, blood pressure, total cholesterol level, HDL level, smoking history and hypertension history. You will also work directly with a nurse practitioner to develop an individualized plan that helps you reduce your identifed risk factors.

Our comprehensive examination includes:

  •  Body mass index
  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol evaluation
  • Depression scale assessment
  • Fasting blood sugar test
  • Exercise recommendations
  • Physical exam
  • Pregnancy history
  • Sleep evaluation
  • Waist circumference
  • Weight consultation

Plan B: ($100) Women with Intermediate Risk, Hypertension or Diabetes Mellitus

  • Ankle brachial index (ABI) – Screening for circulation abnormalities in the lower extremities
  • Echocardiogram – Test to evaluate the structural aspects of the heart
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG) – Test to evaluate the electrical conduction of the heart
  • Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) – Blood test to determine diabetes risk
  • Microalbuminuria – Urine test to screen for early kidney disease

Plan C: ($100) Women with Intermediate Risk or Diabetes Mellitus

  • Calcium score – Computed tomography (CT) of the coronary arteries to help determine risk for coronary disease or blockage

The AHA recommends that cardiovascular screening start at age 20. Use your screening as an opportunity to take charge of your health, modify unhealthy behaviors and have a positive impact on your life. To request an appointment with the Emory Women’s Heart Center, please call 404-778-7777 or click here.

Are You at Risk? Heart Disease Risk Factors

heart riskDid you know that, in some cases, heart disease is preventable? Being aware of your risk factors allows you to take control of your heart health!

Traditional risk factors for heart disease in men and women are:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)– can damage arteries by speeding up the atherosclerosis process.
  • Diabetes – women with diabetes have a two to four times higher risk of stroke or death from heart disease compared with women who do not have diabetes.
  • Age – women over 55 are more likely to have a heart attack.
  • High blood cholesterol– a high level of Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol can narrow the arteries as the deposits build up in the arteries.
  • Obesity– being overweight (Body Mass Index, BMI, over 25) can lead to high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol.
  • Family history – a person with a family history of heart disease is at higher risk for heart disease.
  • Lack of physical activity and poor diet – people who live sedentary lifestyles and eat unhealthy foods are more likely to develop heart disease.

Other risk factors for women that are not typically present in men include:

  • Metabolic syndrome— metabolic syndrome combines extra weight (fat) around your mid section, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, low levels of HDL (“good cholesterol”) and high triglycerides.
  • Mental stress and depression – If a person is depressed she is less likely to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Smoking – poses a greater risk to women than men.
  • Estrogen levels – lower levels of estrogen after menopause lead to microvascular disease or cardiovascular disease in the smaller blood vessels.
  • Chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatments for breast cancer
  • Pregnancy complications – history of pregnancy complications such as high blood pressure or diabetes as well as delivering a pre – term infant.
  • Lupus or rheumatoid arthritis – history of lupus or rheumatoid arthritis

Take Our Heart Disease Risk Quiz!

If you have any of the risk factors described above, we encourage you to schedule a comprehensive cardiovascular risk assessment with an Emory clinician. You may do so by calling 404-778-7777, or clicking to request an appointment specifically with the Emory Women’s Heart Center.

Cardiology Experts Near You

Women's Heart ScreeningsEmory Women’s Heart Center (EWHC) is a unique program dedicated to the diagnosis, screening, treatment and prevention of heart disease in women. The Center provides comprehensive heart screenings for patients at risk for cardiovascular disease as well as a full range of treatment options for those already diagnosed with heart disease. According to the NIH, heart disease kills 1 in 4 women. Fortunately, many women can take preventive measures to minimize their risk of a cardiovascular event by controlling their risk factors.

Risk factors for cardiovascular disease include diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity or physical inactivity, family history of premature heart disease, high cholesterol, menopause, mental stress and certain pregnancy-related conditions (eclampsia, preeclampsia or gestational diabetes) or autoimmune diseases (lupus or rheumatoid arthritis).

At our Lithonia office, we have both Family Practice and Cardiology providers to offer the following services:

  • Annual health & wellness evaluations for your entire family
  • Heart screenings for women who could be at risk for heart disease, but have not been diagnosed with heart disease
  • Diagnostic cardiac care for women who are currently experiencing symptoms of heart disease
  • Health counseling and advice to empower women to take steps to prevent heart disease
  • Long-term management of chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression or heart disease
  • Preoperative cardiac evaluation
  • Routine immunizations: influenza, tetanus, pneumovax, etc.
  • Referrals to Emory specialists as needed

To make an appointment with the Emory Women’s Heart Center, please call 404-778-7777 to speak to an Emory HealthConnection nurse. View other convenient Emory Women’s Heart Center locations.

Please note: Comprehensive heart screenings are for patients who are at risk for heart disease but are not having symptoms and have not been diagnosed with heart disease.

Physician Spotlight

Ijeoma Isiadinso, MD Ijeoma Isiadinso, MD is Director at Emory Women’s Heart Center at Lithonia. This location is particularly convenient for patients and their families because it provides patients with access to both cardiologists and general medicine specialists.

Dr. Isiadinso is passionate about preventing heart disease in women and has clinical interests in cardiovascular disease prevention, preoperative evaluation, cardiovascular risk reduction, coronary artery disease, hypercholesterolemia, counseling on lifestyle changes for patients at risk, or with, family history of heart disease. . 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 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.

What Can You Do to Fight High Blood Pressure?

hypertensionDid you know that over 30% of adults (over the age of 20) have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension?* Did you also know that high blood pressure is a leading cause of heart disease, stroke and kidney disease? The good news is that high blood pressure can be prevented if you educate yourself and take the recommended course of action from your physician.

What is High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)?
Blood pressure is the amount of the blood force against the arterial walls. The upper number is the pressure when the heart is contracting and the lower number is when the heart is at rest.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is when one or both numbers are elevated. Normally it should be under 140/90 mmHg, and anything above this is considered elevated.

What are the symptoms of High Blood Pressure?
Many people think that you can tell if you have high blood pressure by experiencing symptoms like headache, nose bleeds or chest pains, but the reality is that hypertension is a symptomless disease. When blood pressure is elevated and is not treated, you heart, brain and kidneys can suffer the consequences and you do not know it.

Get checked for High Blood Pressure
Everyone should know what their blood pressure numbers are and get treated if elevated or prevent it from being elevated. Factors like age, obesity, family history, increased salt consumption, medications, lack of exercise, alcohol, drugs, renal disease and hormonal abnormalities can contribute to the development of high blood pressure.

What can I do to prevent high blood pressure?

  1. Reduce salt (sodium) intake – Salt is known to retain water and increase blood pressure and the United States is considered a society that consumes a high salt diet. Most of the salt we eat comes from processed and packed foods. The recommendation is to consume less than 1,500 mg of sodium a day, to get an idea a teaspoon of salt has 2,400 mg of sodium!
  2. Consume Potassium – Potassium counterbalances the effects of sodium, at least 4,700 mg daily is advised. Some of the foods rich in potassium are potatoes, greens, bananas, tomatoes and oranges. Patients with renal disease should discuss with their doctors about their potassium intake.
  3. Limit alcohol consumption – Men should limit their alcohol intake to 2 drinks per day and women to 1 drink daily.
  4. Exercise! Exercise! Do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity to keep your circulation, lungs and heart healthy.

If despite of trying your best to prevent hypertension your blood pressure is elevated, your doctor can work with you to find an appropriate medical regimen to control it. Medications that help your body eliminating the sodium excess, retaining potassium or relaxing your blood vessels can be prescribed to you. Together with diet and exercise, medications can control hypertension and prevent heart attacks and strokes.

To learn more about ways to prevent and treat hypertension, join us at the Community Education Series sponsored by the Emory-Adventist Hospital at Smyrna, 3949 South Cobb Drive Smyrna, GA 30080. The event will take place  on Wednesday June 18th, 2014 at 7:00 pm. To find out more, visit https://www.emoryadventist.org/education-events.

*Centers for Disease Control

About Dr. Gongora

Carolina Gongora, MDDr. Gongora is a Board certified cardiologist at the Emory Heart and Vascular Center and Assistant Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Gongora currently sees clinical patients at the Emory Heart & Vascular Center at Midtown and Emory Heart & Vascular Center at Smyrna. To schedule a general preventive cardiology consult please call 404-778-7777.
Dr Gongora went to medical school in Bogotá, Colombia, where she is from originally. She moved to Atlanta in 2005. Before starting her training in Internal Medicine and Cardiology at Emory University, Dr Gongora did a post doctoral research fellowship in hypertension and renal disease. Her research was partially funded by the American Heart Association.

During this time she published in recognized journals like the Journal of American College of Cardiology, Hypertension and Circulation. Also, she presented in nationally renowned meetings, like the American Heart Association, the American Society of Hypertension and the American Physiology Society meetings, among others. She has been a member of the American College of Cardiology, the American Physiological Society and the American Heart Association-Council for high blood pressure.

She is board certified in Cardiology, Internal Medicine and Echocardiography.

Related Links

Emory Heart & Vascular Center at Smyrna
Emory Women’s Heart Center
Manage Your Blood Pressure & Keep Your Heart Healthy
Emory Explores New Treatment Option to Reduce High Blood Pressure

Reversing Heart Disease – Is it Possible?

Did you know that in women, heart disease takes more lives than every type of cancer combined? The good news is that in the last 20 years deaths due to heart disease have declined thanks to advances in medicine as well as education of the population.

In the past, heart disease was thought to be just a “man’s disease,” but surprisingly more women currently die from cardiovascular disease than men. Therefore, it is important to take action to prevent and potentially reverse heart disease. If you think you may be at risk, schedule your heart disease screening today.

There are various things you can do to reverse heart disease and if action is taken quickly, heart disease symptoms can be reduced in a very short period of time.

  • Evaluate your diet to determine if the foods you are eating are causing plaque build up. If you stop consuming foods that are contributing the plaque build up, your arteries will have a better chance to recover. A plant based diet incorporating fruits, vegetables and whole grains can likely help to reverse heart disease.
    • If this diet is too restrictive, or you are just looking to prevent heart disease, the USDA ‘s new “MyPlate” program is a good option. It suggests filling half of your plate with fruits and vegetables, and the other half is split between lean proteins and good carbs, like brown rice or quinoa. In addition, the program says to:
      • Reduce saturated fat to less than 7% of your daily total calories
      • Choose healthier fats, like from salmon, omega-3 fatty acids, nuts, avocados and olives
    • This will ensure that you feel better, no matter how old or how sick you may have felt before, in a more sustainable way.
  • Exercise – If you really want to reverse heart disease, you have to start working exercise into your daily routine. If you have never exercised, you can start with as little as 15 minutes a day and work your way up to 30 minutes a day. If you don’t have time to hit the gym each day, work 30 minutes into your daily routine. Walk your child to school, take the stairs at work, go for a 15-minute walk at lunch, or mow your lawn. These are all ways to get your heart rate up during your daily activities.
  • Relax – take time each day to totally unwind and de-stress. Turn off the computer, turn off the TV, put the kids to bed and totally relax. Stress is a big contributor to heart disease, the quicker you learn to manage your stress the quicker you will be able to reverse some of the symptoms of heart disease.

Heart Disease Screening

About Farheen Shirazi, MD

Farheen Shirazi, MD

Farheen Shirazi, MD, is an assistant professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Shirazi completed medical school at Morehouse School of Medicine before completing her internship at New York University, her residency at Stanford University and her fellowship at Emory University. She is passionate about teaching patients how to reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke. Her practice encompasses the scope of general cardiology, with a focus on cardiovascular disease prevention and women’s health.

Dr. Shirazi has published in the area of preventive cardiology and is currently working on literature in the field of women’s cardiovascular health.

Dr. Shirazi is board certified in internal medicine and cardiology. She is a member of several professional organizations, including the American Heart Association, the American College of Physicians, the American Medical Association and the American College of Cardiology.

Dr. Shirazi sees patients at the Emory Heart & Vascular Center at East Cobb, as well as the Emory Heart & Vascular Center at 1365 Clifton Road.

She enjoys drawing, painting and reading classical literature in her spare time.

About the Emory Women’s Heart Center

The 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. Find out if you are at risk for heart disease by scheduling your comprehensive cardiac screening. Call 404-778-7777.

Related Resources:

Understanding the Different Types of Heart Disease

Heart Disease TypesDid you know there are more than 50 types of heart disease? “Heart disease” is actually a general term used to describe a range of diseases that affect your heart. Heart disease generally describes a heart’s capacity for pumping blood and oxygen throughout the body. Other heart conditions, such as infections and conditions that affect your heart’s muscle, valves or beating rhythm, also are considered forms of heart disease.

Some of the most common types of heart disease are:

Heart Disease Risk QuizAlthough some of the types of heart disease listed above are not preventable, Emory Women’s Heart Center physicians work with subspecialty physicians from across the Emory Healthcare system to ensure that the treatment you receive for your heart disease is high quality. In many of the areas listed above such as congenital heart disease and heart valve disease, Emory physicians and researchers have been instrumental in bringing the newest treatments and procedures to the bedside.

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 processed foods and those high in saturated fat
  • Exercising at least 3 – 5 times a week for 30 minutes a day
  • Stop smoking!
  • Controling your diabetes and high blood pressure

Take control of your heart health by educating yourself on the types of heart disease, risk factors and symptoms. This is very important to ensure that if you or a loved one does develop heart disease you can take quick action and potentially save a life.

Related Resources

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.

About Susmita Parashar, MD, MPH, MS, FACC
Dr. Susmita ParasharSusmita Parashar, MD, MPH, MS is a Board certified cardiologist at the Emory Heart and Vascular Center and Assistant Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) at Emory University School of Medicine. Prior to joining as faculty in the Division of Cardiology, Dr Parashar was Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of General Medicine at Emory for 8 years. She applies her experience as a Board certified internist in providing a holistic care to patients. She was awarded the American Heart Association (AHA) Trudy Bush Fellowship for Cardiovascular Research in Women’s Health Award to recognize outstanding work in the area of women’s health and cardiovascular disease and Emory Department of Medicine Early Career Faculty Research Award for Clinical Research.

Dr. Parashar completed her residency in Internal Medicine at Medical College of Georgia, Augusta and Cardiology fellowship at Emory University. She completed her Master of Public Health and a Master of Science from Emory in 2005. A passionate clinician-researcher and educator, she trains medical students, residents and cardiology fellows. In addition, she conducts clinical research. Dr Parashar’s clinical and research focus is in preventive cardiology with a focus on women and cardiovascular diseases.

She has received several grants and awards from the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the AHA to conduct research on women and heart disease. She has served as Emory principal investigator for large NIH funded clinical research for heart attack patients. She was also invited to participate as a co-investigator for the NIH funded Cardiovascular Health Study for older adults. She has presented her work in national and international scientific meetings, including the AHA Annual Session, AHA Quality of Care and Outcomes Research in Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke, American College of Cardiology Annual Session, Society of General Internal Medicine and International Congress of Coronary Heart Disease.

Dr. Parashar has authored/coauthored over 60 peer-reviewed publications, including invited textbook chapters, manuscripts, abstracts and review articles. Her work has been published in such prestigious journals as the New England Journal of Medicine, Archives of Internal Medicine and Circulation, and highlighted by the Nature and national media such as CNN, CBS and NPR news. She believes in family-career balance and applies her experience as a mother of two young children and wife to her work.