More than 30 million adult Americans have heart disease. It accounts for about 21% of all deaths, making it the number-one killer in the U.S.
Even though cancer gets all the publicity, heart disease is the proverbial elephant in the room. Let’s talk about what you should know about heart disease, what you can do to help thwart it, and where you can go in Boca for world-class cardiology care.
What Is Heart Disease?
Heart disease encompasses a range of conditions that affect the heart, the most common of which include:
- Coronary artery disease – The most common cause of heart disease, coronary artery disease occurs when the coronary arteries narrow or become blocked and obstruct blood flow to the heart. We think of arteries as going outward from the heart to other parts of the body, but the two coronary arteries actually serve the heart muscle itself.
If blood flow is blocked to the heart, this causes a heart attack.
- Arteriosclerosis – This form of heart disease is a narrowing and “hardening” of the arteries caused by cholesterol, fat, and calcium buildup in the vessels. This impedes blood flow and can lead to blood clots.
- Angina – This describes chest pains that occur when the heart doesn’t receive enough blood due to blockages or coronary artery spasms.
- Congestive heart failure – This condition develops when the heart can’t pump enough blood for the body. The lungs can begin to have liquid buildup inside, and this causes shortness of breath.
The good news is that many types of heart disease are treatable and even preventable by making the right healthy lifestyle choices. The more you know about this condition, the better you can protect your heart.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Heart Disease
Many people do not notice obvious symptoms of heart disease until an event occurs, such as a heart attack or stroke. Symptoms that require immediate emergency medical attention include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Sudden pain or numbness in your arms or legs
- Loss of consciousness
- Blurred vision
Your doctor can determine whether you have heart disease by performing a physical examination and conducting certain tests. For example, the physician can check your pulse and blood pressure, and listen to your heart and lungs for any abnormal sounds or heart rhythms.
Blood work, including tests for cholesterol and blood sugar levels, can be ordered, and there are a number of tests that can evaluate your heart structure and its proper functioning. These include:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), which records your heart’s electrical activity and health.
- Echocardiogram, which uses sound waves to produce images of your heart.
- Exercise stress test, which tests your heart’s ability to respond to exercise.
- Carotid artery scan, which checks for blockages in the large carotid artery in your neck.
- Coronary angiography, which uses dye injected into your heart to see how well it is working.
- Nuclear ventriculography, which uses a safe radioisotope injection to create an image of your heart with special scanners.
Prevention and Treatment of Heart Disease
As with many other health conditions, your risk of heart disease increases as you get older. Other risk factors for developing heart disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, being overweight, diabetes, smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, and a lack of exercise.
You can help to reverse your risk factors for heart disease by:
- Monitoring and maintaining healthy blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Not smoking
- Drinking alcohol in moderation, if at all
- Keeping your stress levels low
- Getting enough sleep
If you do have heart disease, depending on its type and severity, there are several types of corrective surgery available. These include:
- Coronary angioplasty, which uses a stent to open blocked arteries.
- Bypass surgery, which involves taking a blood vessel from another part of the body to create a detour around a clogged artery, in order to restore proper blood flow to the heart.
- Atherectomy, which is a procedure that removes plaque from an artery.
- Carotid endarterectomy, which removes plaque from the carotid artery to prevent a stroke.
- Pacemakers and/or valve replacement to help heart function.
Heart Disease Treatment in Boca Raton, FL
The board-certified physicians at the Advanced Heart and Vascular Institute in Boca Raton focus on preventive cardiology to reduce the risk of heart disease, and to avoid the need for high-risk procedures in the future as much as possible. We are dedicated to providing personalized care to help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and related complications.
To learn more about our heart and vascular services, contact Advanced Heart and Vascular Institute today at (561) 235-5621 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Eli Levine or Dr. Michael Schechter. Or, if you prefer, fill out our convenient online Request an Appointment form now. We look forward to being your healthcare partner!