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Heart Disease

Heart Disease

Many of us have heard this term before: Heart Disease. But do we really know what it is? I mean, we can put two and two together – it’s a disease of the heart – that’s true enough. But is there more to it than that? Is there more that we should know? Or maybe even, be concerned about?

The answer is a resolute YES! Heart disease is merely the common term. The medical term is actually Cardiovascular Disease. Additionally, it’s not a single disease, but a classification that other diseases fall under, including heart failure and myocarditis.

Heart disease is the leading cause of deaths worldwide. And while it often affects older adults, the causes of heart disease can begin much earlier; making early prevention and detection efforts necessary from as early as childhood. Healthy eating and exercise are ways to help reduce the causes and heart disease, as well as the avoidance of smoking tobacco. You’re never too young— or too old — to take care of your heart. we can help you with regular wellness exams, and setting up a treatment plan, do not hesitate to make an appointment.

Understanding Blood Pressure

We’ve all heard of it. Maybe we have it ourselves or we know someone who has it. Or maybe you or someone you know is currently battling it; fighting each day to keep it under control: High blood pressure. But how well do you understand it? When your nurse or doctor reads you your blood pressure, do you know what it means? Or are you like the average person who knows that the lower the number is the better?

Let’s go over some of the basics. When a nurse or doctor tells you your blood pressure rating, they may say something along the lines of “blood pressure 110/70 (110 over 70),” to let you know where your blood pressure lies.  Blood pressure is not measured in pounds, but in millimeters of mercury (mm HG). The first number, which is generally the higher number, is your systolic pressure. It measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. The second number, which is generally the lower number, is your diastolic pressure. It measures the pressure in the arteries in between heartbeats. Typically more attention is given to the top number (the systolic blood pressure) as a major risk factor for heart disease for people over 50 years old.

According to the American Heart Association, a healthy blood pressure reading is less than 120/80. Pre-hypertension, or slightly elevated blood pressure, is between that and 139/89. Once you creep over those numbers, you are officially at high blood pressure.  Believe it or not, low blood pressure can be a cause for concern as well. While most doctors only consider low blood pressure dangerous when symptoms are displayed, it can also have an underlying cause. Symptoms of low blood pressure include:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Dehydration and unusual thirst
  • Lack of concentration
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Cold, clammy, pale skin
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Depression

Regular visits to your doctor or cardiologist is the best way to maintain your blood pressure. We can recommend the best treatment or course of action if your blood pressure is too high or too low.

Varicose Veins

So what are varicose veins?

Varicose veins are veins that have become twisted and enlarged near the surface of the skin. Although they can occur anywhere within the body’s veins, they most commonly occur in the veins in the legs and ankles. Veins have what are known as leaflet valves, or one way valves. The purpose of these valves is to prevent blood from flowing backwards (known as retrograde flow or reflux). If these leaflet valves fail, then the blood flows backwards, causing the veins to build pressure and swell. The legs are most affected because the leg muscles pump the veins to return blood to the heart against the effect of gravity. Varicose veins can run in families, but being overweight, being pregnant or having a job where you must stand for
long periods of time can lead to varicose veins. Varicose veins normally aren’t serious, but they can lead to other things and can be painful.

Mild symptoms include:

  • Heaviness, burning, aching, tiredness, or pain in your legs – possibly worsening over long periods of standing
  • Swelling in your feet and ankles.
  • Itching over the vein.

More serious symptoms include:

  • Leg swelling.
  • Swelling and calf pain after you sit or stand for long periods of time.

Skin changes, such as:

  • Color changes.
  • Dry, thinned skin.
  • Inflammation.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, We can examine your veins and let you know if there are any reasons for concern.

Halloween has passed, but its just the beginning of indulgence.

The passing of Halloween ushers in a season of food and family time. With every good feast comes an assortment of sweets and deserts meant to serve as the perfect indulgence after a grand meal.

Here are three sweet treats that are a smarter choice you can enjoy with much less of a guilty conscience. They’re healthier, overall, for the body. And a healthy body and healthy heart go hand and hand.

York Peppermint Patties

With only 140 calories, 3g of fat and 0g of trans fat in each bight sized piece, York Peppermint Patties are great way to get your chocolate fix without surpassing – or greatly surpassing – your calorie intake goal. What more is that their minty centers tend to do a great job of stopping any additional cravings.

Chocolate cover fruit and fruit skewers

Fruit on its own can be a pretty great way to satisfy a sweet tooth, but drizzle a little bit of all natural melted dark chocolate on them and WOW! Strawberries, bananas and pineapples tend to be common favorites when dressed in chocolate, but why not try some on whatever your favorite fruit may be. Or you can cut up an assortment of fruit and make fruit skewers. For a frozen treat, try freezing some banana skewers first and then drizzling chocolate over them.

Rice Krispies Treats

They have less sugar than you might expect, especially when made fresh at home. You can even find recipes online to make them with brown rice puffs and brown rice syrup as the sweetener, which are better for controlling blood sugar levels. For an added taste, try drizzling a subtle amount of melted dark chocolate over these as well.

These are just the tip of the iceberg. You can find a wide variety of tasty treats online that will tantalize your appetite without causing you to start your new year off with regret over your desert choices.

Cardiology: A Run Down

When I was asked to write an article about cardiology, it became strikingly clear to me how little I knew of the subject. I knew that cardiology primarily focused on the heart, but not much more beyond that. This then dominoed into how little I knew of the heart itself. I knew that it pumps blood through the body, making it the engine that keeps our body going. I knew that a well-balanced diet with reduced levels of fat and cholesterol, and a steady regiment of light exercise keeps it fairly healthy which keeps one out of the emergency room – at least for heart related issues. But again, that was pretty much all. So it was time to research.

Now of course, I didn’t set out to become a cardiologist overnight. But having more knowledge and understanding of any subject is always better than having less; and so this article became a reason to arm myself with – as well as share – some information I feel anyone who is not a medical professional should know. Particularly if you’re in your mid 30’s (like myself) and considering beginning regular visits to a cardiologist to maintain a healthy heart. After all, how much can we really learn from the various medical dramas airing on television nowadays?

As I set out to learn, I decided to start with the heart; before moving onto the study of it and its disorders. The heart, for all intents and purposes, acts as a pump. It draws blood in and it pumps it back out, creating a continuous circulation of blood throughout the body. It’s divided into four main sections, or chambers. The two upper chambers are known as the left and right atrium, while the two lower chambers are the left and right ventricles. As the blood circulates, it flows into the atria (plural for atrium) and out through the ventricles.

Now some may wonder, just as I did, why there would be a need for four chambers when the heart seems to have two functions. That would be because the left and right sides of the heart have their own functions. The right side of the heart collects de-oxygenated blood and pumps it into the lungs, where carbon dioxide is exchanged for oxygen. From the lungs, the oxygenated blood flows into the left side of the heart where it is then pumped into the body. With every heartbeat, the right ventricle pumps the same amount of blood into the lungs as the left ventricle pumps into the body. The complete heartbeat, from its beginning to the beginning of the next beat, is known as the cardiac cycle.

Cardiology is the medical profession that specializes in disorders of the heart. Just as the heart is complicated and intricate, so is the specialization in the many things that can go wrong. As I continued to research I was amazed to find just how in depth cardiology actually is. There are more commonly known disorders; such as heart failure, which is failure of the heart to pump enough blood to meet the body’s demand. Or varicose veins, which are veins that become enlarged and twisted due to failed valves.

However, the list of disorders that affect the heart extends far beyond what you may have seen or heard on TV, or discussed amongst your family and friends. There are disorders that affect the four chambers or other parts of the heart such as the walls, arteries or valves. There are also disorders that affect the veins or how the blood circulates through them. There are even disorders that can cause the heart to stop pumping blood.

A cardiologist uses their knowledge and understanding of these disorders to help one maintain optimum heart health. Aside from being referred to one by your primary doctor, it is commonly known that it’s generally a good idea to consult one for various reasons. For example, if your family has a history of heart problems, you may want to consider consulting a cardiologist to make sure you are not predisposed to anything. However, I was surprised to learn that some non-cardiac disorders, such as diabetes or gum disease, can contribute to heart disease; so one may want to consult a cardiologist if you have one of those disorders as well.

The bottom line is that cardiology is, in my opinion, one of the most important fields of all medical professions.