Heart Disease And Ways To Prevent It


Heart disease is a group of conditions that affect the structure or function of your heart. It can include high blood pressure, heart failure, clots in your arteries and other issues. The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD). This occurs when the arteries that supply your heart with oxygen-rich blood become clogged with fatty deposits, called plaques. When these fatty plaques become unstable, they can crack and rupture, causing blood clots to form, which can block an artery and cause a heart attack or stroke. 

High Blood Pressure 

High blood pressure is a common and dangerous problem as it can cause serious health problems including heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure. When blood pressure is too high, it can damage arteries and other blood vessels, preventing the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the organs, tissues, and cells of your body. The good news is that many of the things that contribute to high blood pressure can be controlled through healthy lifestyle changes such as eating a heart-healthy diet, getting regular physical activity, and reducing stress. 


The chemicals in cigarettes damage the heart and blood vessels, increasing the risk of diseases such as atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the arteries), stroke, heart attack and peripheral arterial disease. Carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke also reduces the amount of oxygen that can reach your body, increasing the risk of heart disease and lung cancer. Getting help to stop smoking is the best way to prevent heart disease and other health problems. Quitting tobacco immediately cuts the risk of heart attack, stroke, and lung cancer. After one year, the risk of these diseases is about half that of a smoker; within 5 years, the risks are almost as low as non-smokers. 

Physical Activity 

Getting enough physical activity is one of the best things you can do to help prevent heart disease. Regular exercise is good for you in many ways, including improving your health and mood, helping to maintain a healthy weight, and reducing your risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol. A new study shows that men who are active have a much lower risk of coronary heart disease than men who don’t. It also found that walking can cut the risk of death from heart disease by up to 50 percent! – www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov  

EKGs and Stress Tests

Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women worldwide. According to the American Heart Association, about 2,150 Americans die each day from heart disease or stroke. This equates to one person dying every 40 seconds. Your cardiologist can determine your risk of developing heart disease or a heart attack through EKGs and stress tests.

What Kind of Tests are Performed to Check for Heart Disease?

An EKG, also known as an electrocardiogram, measures your heart’s activity. EKGs can be administered while you are lying on a table to take a ‘snapshot’ of your current heart rate, or may be administered as part of a stress test.

Your cardiologist may recommend a stress test if you have heart disease or are at an increased risk of developing heart disease. Stress tests allow cardiologists to pinpoint whether you are experiencing symptoms of heart disease, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or an irregular heartbeat. They are often conducted while you exercise, but can also be performed a number of other ways, including by administering medicine to make your heart react as if you were exercising.

In some cases, a nuclear stress test is recommended. This is a great diagnostic tool for checking blood flow to the heart. During this test, a small amount of radioactive tracer is administered into the vein through an IV. Then, a camera is used to detect the tracer and produce images of the heart. This test is allows us to determine whether you are getting adequate blood flow to the heart while active.


How Do These Tests Work?

Before the test begins, we will place electrodes on your chest, arms and legs. These electrodes are connected to a machine that will monitor and record your heart activity.

During typical exercise stress tests, you may either use a treadmill or a stationary bike. The EKG will monitor you from baseline, while you are active, and after you finish exercising. The test has different phases, each of which lasts about three minutes. After each phase is complete, the speed or resistance will be increased.

Both your heart rate and blood pressure will be monitored throughout the exercise. The test ends either once you reach your maximum heart rate, when there are symptoms of stress on the heart or lungs, or when we find that there is decreased blood flow to the heart muscles. We will also stop the test if you experience an irregular heartbeat or if your blood pressure drops. The entire test will take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes.

Your cardiologist will look at the patterns of electrical activity in the heart and contact you within a few days with the results. In some cases, we may even be able to tell you the results immediately following the test.

If you are at risk of heart disease or are experiencing fatigue, shortness of breath, or chest pain, call us today.

Holter Monitoring

If there is a concern that you have a slow, fast or irregular heartbeat, your cardiologist may recommend wearing a Holter monitor. This portable device is worn continuously for about 24 to 48 hours or longer, depending on the type of monitoring needed. The device is small and attaches to your chest with electrodes to record the electrical activity of your heart throughout the day.

Aside from checking the regularity of your heartbeat, your cardiologist may recommend wearing a Holter monitor to see if your medicines are managing your health problems. The results will help your cardiologist decide whether you need additional testing and medication, or if you require a pacemaker to repair your irregular heart rhythm. And if you have a pacemaker, Holter monitoring can help us determine whether it is working properly.


How Do Holter Monitors Work?

When you get an electrocardiogram (EKG) from your cardiologist, it allows us to see your heart’s activity at that specific moment. Unfortunately for those with abnormal heart rhythms, their symptoms often come and go, and may not be caught by an EKG. That’s why your cardiologist may recommend wearing a Holter monitor while you go about your normal daily activities.

When you come in for your monitor, we will talk to you about how to record your symptoms while you wear it. Then we will attach the electrodes to your chest. Once the electrodes have been placed, we will help you put the monitor on and talk to you about how to care for it.

The monitor can easily fit into a pocket or hang around your shoulder like a purse. While you can go about your normal day­-to-­day activities wearing the monitor, don’t bathe or shower while wearing it, and stay away from metal detectors and X­-rays.

Once the test period is over, you will return the monitor to us and we will create a report based on your results. You’ll come back for your results in a week or two.

Questions about Holter monitors? Coping with an irregular heartbeat? Then it’s time you called our cardiology office today!