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Aortic Aneurysm - Screening Is Important.

Posted on in Heart Health

QUESTION: What can we do about a medical issue that 1) involves the largest, most important blood vessel in the body, 2) has few, if any, symptoms and 3) has a 90% risk of death if it ruptures?

ANSWER: If you are a man, a smoker and are age 65-75, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends an immediate ultrasound screening by your physician or a vascular specialist for an aortic aneurysm.

Healthcare Ratings: How They Stack Up.

Posted on in Heart Health

Over the years, most people have relied on recommendations from friends and family when choosing a doctor or hospitals. With the rise of the Internet, easily and often accessed by health consumers, ratings and rankings boomed. To be an informed consumer, it’s good to understand what information each rating uses and how it is compiled. Here’s a brief overview.

Organizations compile their ratings with different information, from different sources with different formulas to make the data consumer-friendly. Here are the most common ways in which ratings are generated:

Medically Reviewed by Scott Schultz, MD

Over 300,000 patients with coronary artery disease undergo heart bypass surgery each year. Hear the words “heart bypass surgery,” you might think of the traditional approach which includes stopping the patient’s heart for about an hour.  During this time, blood is diverted into a heart-lung machine that keeps the patient alive, while the surgeon sews arteries or veins from the leg or arm beyond the blocked arteries on the heart.

Atrial fibrillation is a major risk factor for stroke, making a person 5 times more likely to suffer stroke. 

WHAT IS IT?  Atrial Fibrillation is a type of irregular heartbeat. It is caused when the two upper chambers of the heart (atria) beat rapidly and unpredictably, producing a changeable heartbeat. 

A temporary fluttering in the chest.  An extra or skipped beat.  This is something that almost everyone has experienced.  It's usually nothing but could be a sign of something more serious. 

The Problem. Think of the heart like a machine that requires electrical impulses to travel through it in a certain path to keep blood pumping regularly.  When the impulses don’t travel in the correct path, the heart’s chambers (2 upper atriums, 2 lower ventricles) don’t expand and contract in a coordinated manner. A rapid beating in the upper chambers prevents the heart from pumping blood adequately to the lower chambers. At times the heart may beat too fast or too slowly. 

A person’s heart has four valves. Two of them do the most work.  The mitral valve pumps blood between the heart’s two left chambers. The aortic valve controls blood flowing from your heart into the body’s main blood vessel. 

Two common problems happen with valves.  In one case, the valve can’t close properly.  In the other, the valve opening narrows, limiting the amount of blood that can flow through.

“The heart’s 4 valves can malfunction in two primary ways,” says McLeod Cardiothoracic Surgeon Dr. Scot Schultz.  “A valve can fail to open all the way or a narrowing can block the flow of blood. Or a valve may fail to close all the way, allowing some blood leak the wrong way.”

Many people with heart valve disease have no symptoms.  Fatigue or tiredness is one of the most common, along with heart irregularities that some people may describe as “palpitations.”

This article is one of three outlining signs & symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of heart valve problems.

“Your heart has 4 valves that are essentially flaps of tissue,” says McLeod Cardiothoracic Surgeon Dr. Scot Schultz. “The main job of the valves is keeping the blood flowing in one direction through the heart and body.  Valves are very busy body parts – opening and closing about 100,000 times a day.”

Larry King, best known for his long-running cable interview show "Larry King Live," at the age of 54 suffered a serious heart attack.  Shortly afterward he underwent a quintuple bypass surgery.  The experience led him to not only make serious changes in his own life, but to also inspired him to help others with heart disease by sharing his experiences in his book "Mr. King, You're Having a Heart Attack". 

Your days, weeks and months after heart surgery are certainly a time of physical recuperation and rehabilitation.  The post-surgery period can hold emotional challenges, as well.  So, let’s tackle that side of your recovery plan first.

“Nearly everything in our lives has some effect on the risk of having a heart problem (cardiac) or disease related to our blood vessels (vascular),” says McLeod Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Fred Krainin. “The narrowing and hardening of arteries can lead to stroke, heart attack, kidney disease, diabetes or even dementia.”

Everyone is at risk for cardiovascular disease.  Some risk factors are beyond your control.  But others can be influenced by how we lead our lives.

Pain… Pain in your leg… When you walk... Or climb stairs… You think it’s just age… Stiffness…   Maybe a touch of arthritis…  OR it could be a type of serious cardiovascular disease called Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD).

PAD is caused by a buildup of plaque (plak) in arteries that carry blood to your limbs.  As the plaque builds up, arteries become clogged, limiting the flow of oxygen-carrying blood to your legs.  The danger of gangrene and amputation exists if PAD is left untreated

Conditions related to vascular disease mostly have long, complicated names – carotid artery disease, transient ischemic attacks, peripheral arterial disease – and similar multi-word, multi-syllable names.  

“Simply put, these terms are describing the process of blood vessels clogging up over time,” says McLeod Vascular Surgeon Dr. Christopher Cunningham. “The result is a decrease in the flow of blood to various parts of the body and brain, leading to potentially serious health problems.”  

Carotid artery disease is the major cause of stroke and a leading cause of disability in the United States. 

WHAT IS IT?

Heart disease and cardiovascular conditions can be treated in numerous ways, depending on the seriousness of the condition and the patient’s history or other medical problems.

Prevention. If you are reading this, it may already be too late to think about preventing your heart disease. However, many diagnosed heart issues can be treated successfully with the lifestyle changes listed below. If you don’t have a heart problem, following the lifestyle recommendations can prevent or delay serious heart issues for you.

Women Are Different At Heart

Posted on in Heart Health

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in South Carolina. Heart disease and stroke account for nearly 28% of women’s deaths in South Carolina. To put it on a more personal, understandable level – about 15 women die EVERY DAY in South Carolina from heart disease and stroke.

 These statistics alone show the serious impact of heart disease on women in our home state and hometown. While cardiac issues are often considered “men’s diseases,” recent statistics show that at least as many women as men die from coronary artery disease.

Know the Symptoms of a Heart Attack

Posted on in Heart Health


Chest Pain.
Nausea.Sweating.Know the Symptoms of Heart Attack.  “Anyone who experiences the signs and symptoms of a heart attack should immediately take an aspirin and call 911,” says McLeod Emergency Services Medical Director Dr. Jeremy Robertson. “Rapid treatment is extremely important in preventing damage to the heart and the patient’s survival.”

Heart disease is the nation’s #1 killer. Sadly, about 325,000 people a year die of a heart attack before they get to a hospital. Some waited too long, because they either didn’t recognize the symptoms or were afraid to go to the ER, because they would be embarrassed if they were mistaken.

Electrophysiology's Important Role in Cardiology

Posted on in Heart Health

Many heart patients know about a cardiologist, whose role is to test and diagnose heart problems. And they know about cardiac surgeons, who open chests for bypass or other heart surgery. There is a subset of cardiologists, who receive additional training in the electrical rhythms of the heart. This subspecialty is called electrophysiology.

The heart muscle is kept in rhythm, pumping blood, by a series of electrical signals from nerves,” says McLeod Electrophysiologist Dr. Rajesh Malik. “When those signals are irregular, the patient suffers what we call arrhythmia, fibrillation or tachycardia. The heart may beat too fast, too slow or vary between too fast and too slow.”

Are You Due for a Heart Valve Job?

Posted on in Heart Health

An overview: Heart Valve Problems & Treatment for Mitral Valve Prolapse

If you did something over 100,000 times a day (40 million times a year), you would eventually fatigue and wear out. Right? So, it is no wonder the valves in our beating hearts can wear out as they get no rest.

The Right Way To Choose Your Heart Surgeon.

Posted on in Heart Health

Finding the right surgeon for your heart surgery is much the same as finding any other doctor or specialist – except it is probably more important. So, additional input is better. Ask more people. Ask your other physicians. Find people who have had heart surgery. Yet, ironically, the sources that may be in question – according to the Harvard Medical School Publications – are those third-party rating sites.

Several public agencies have tried to respond to consumer demand for information about which doctors and hospital are better than others, but it has turned out to be more complicated than it appears, “ noted Dr. Karen Donelan, of the Mongan Institute of Health Policy at Harvard –Associated Massachusetts General Hospital and a lead author of a recent study.

5 Tips for Finding a Good Cardiologist

Posted on in Heart Health

Are you feeling chest pain or discomfort? Shortness of breath? Pain or discomfort in your arms or shoulder? Feeling weak, light-headed or faint? Then, STOP READING! CALL 9-1-1 NOW!

However, if you or your family physician thinks you may have a non-urgent heart problem, finish reading these tips on finding the best Cardiologist for you.

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services at McLeod Health. It should not be used for diagnosis or as a substitute for health care by your physician.
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