Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is Coronary Artery Disease?
A: Coronary Artery Disease or CAD is narrowing of the small blood vessels that supply the heart with oxygen and nutrients. It is the leading cause of death in the United States for men and women. It is caused by the buildup of plaque in the arteries.
Q: What are the risk factors for Coronary Artery Disease or CAD?
A: The risk factors for coronary artery disease or CAD include age, race, genetics, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, cerebral vascular disease (CVD), peripheral arterial disease (PAD), and chronic kidney disease amongst others.
An echocardiogram is a safe, noninvasive test, and in fact, is the same technology used to image a fetus before it is born. To perform the test, a special gel is placed on the chest wall and a transducer is then moved over the gelled areas to produce images for interpretation.
Q: What are the symptoms of coronary artery disease or CAD?
A: Men often experience chest pain or chest heaviness. It is provoked by exertion or emotional stress. Women, patients with diabetes, and the elderly may experience little or no chest pain. They may present with fatigue or shortness of breath.
Q: What is a Stress Test?
A: A stress test allows a doctor to determine if a patient has coronary artery disease. Most commonly the patient is asked to exercise on a treadmill. A chemical stress test can be done for patients that are unable to exercise. This test simulates exercise.
Q: What is Valvular Heart Disease?
A: The human heart has four chambers and four valves. These valves regulate the flow of blood from one chamber to the next. In some patients valves can become dysfunctional. Generally speaking valvular disorders can be described as narrowed or leaking. Narrowed valves make blood flow through the heart difficult while a leaking heart valve makes the heart work harder than it has to. Both states can cause damage to the heart muscle and may cause symptoms such as lightheadedness, chest pain, palpitations or shortness of breath.
Q: What is an Echocardiogram?
A: An echocardiogram is an ultrasound of the heart. It allows a doctor to examine the heart closely. It is often used in patients with symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath. Abnormalities in heart function can often be picked up by an echocardiogram.
Q: What is a stroke?
A:A stroke is a state or condition where the brain is deprived from blood long enough to cause permanent damage. Stroke patients often have loss of sensation or speech or movement.
Q: How can a stroke be prevented?
A: A carotid ultrasound helps a doctor determine blood flow to the brain. Patients who have decreased blood flow through their carotid arteries are at an increased risk of stroke. A carotid ultrasound therefore can help identify such patients before they have a stroke.
Q: What is an aneurysm?
A: An aneurysm is an abnormal dilation or enlargement of a blood vessel. They can be seen commonly in patients with high blood pressure or smoking histories. If left untreated an aneurysm can burst with catastrophic consequences..
The sensation of skipped beats usually comes from extra electrical beats originating in the atria or ventricles. These extra beats are very common and can increase with stress or increased caffeine intake. As we get older, the frequency of these extra beats tends to increase. Generally, these extra beats do not represent a serious problem, but if they persist consultation with a physician is recommended.
Q: How can an aneurysm be detected?
A: Vascular Ultrasound is extremely valuable in detecting aneurysms early. A doctor can use vascular ultrasound to diagnose aneurysms of the vascular system and therefore treat the disease before it can cause irreparable harm or death.
Q: What is Peripheral Arterial Disease or PAD?
A: Peripheral Arterial Disease or PAD is a term used to describe poor circulation in the extremities. Often seen in smokers, PAD, can be a predictor for stroke or heart attack. PAD can be safely and accurately diagnosed by your doctor using vascular ultrasound.
Q: What is Atrial Fibrillation or A-Fib?
A: Atrial Fibrillation is a chaotic heart rhythm. It is a leading cause of strokes.
Q: How can doctors diagnose Atrial Fibrillation?
A: A-Fib can be easily diagnosed with a simple EKG or a monitor that records heart rhythms.
Q: What is a Pacemaker?
A: Permanent Pacemakers are small devices that are implanted in patients with very slow heart rates.
Any patient struggling with these emotions after a heart attack should discuss them frankly with his or her physician. Counseling and medication can help remove this obstacle to good health. Enrolling in supervised cardiac rehabilitation after a heart attack can also be quite beneficial.
Q: What is an ICD?
A: An ICD is a device implanted in patients with poor heart function. It serves to shock an abnormal heart rhythm back into a normal state. Abnormal heart rhythms that can be fatal often develop in patients with poor heart function.
Q: What is heart failure?
A: Heart failure is a condition that results from a weakened heart especially in patients who survive a heart attack or if they have had untreated high blood pressure.
Q: What medicines are commonly used in patients with heart disease?
A: There are many medicines that cardiologists use to treat different forms or heart disease. Commonly they use Aspirin, Beta Blockers, ACE inhibitors, Diuretics and Statins.
Q: What is Warfarin or Coumadin?
A: Warfarin or Coumadin is a blood thinner. It is used in stroke prevention and in patients who have a history of blood clots.