cardiac problems

For Those Living with Heart Disease

  • Posted Feb 20, 2018
  • hchadmin

White Hearts in a circle image

Learning that you or a loved one has heart disease changes your life. However, educating yourself about this disease is the first step toward feeling better and making choices that can help you live a longer and healthier life.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 11.5 percent of Americans have been diagnosed with heart disease. February is American Heart Month and the National Institues of Health offer the following suggestions to help navigate treatment if you or a loved one has been diagnosed:

•Making lifestyle changes. Not smoking, following a heart healthy eating plan, maintaining a healthier weight and becoming more physically active can go a long way in helping to keep your heart disease from worsening. 

•Taking medication. Medications are often used to treat high cholesterol, high blood pressure or heart disease itself. Be sure to take your medication exactly as your doctor prescribes. If you have uncomfortable side effects, let your doctor know. 

•Following doctor’s orders. Your doctor may recommend procedures to open an artery and improve blood flow. These are usually done to ease severe chest pain or to clear blockages in blood vessels.

As you know, having a primary care physician (PCP) who can coordinate your care is vital to your good health. If you don’t have a PCP, finding one is easy! Just visit your insurance carrier’s website, look for the “find a doctor” area and follow the instructions.

When you’re being treated for a disease or condition, it may not always be easy to decide where to go for care. For anything that is considered a life-threatening situation (like chest pain, major injuries or sudden and severe pain) it’s best to go to the emergency room. 

For less severe matters that still require immediate attention, if you can’t get in to see your PCP, going to an urgent care facility can save you time and money. 

As your trusted health partner for life, Holy Cross Hospital is committed to helping you Live Your Whole Life by nurturing well-being through body, mind and spirit.


Regular Screenings and Knowing Your Numbers Can Help Catch Heart Disease Early

  • Posted Feb 04, 2019
  • Christine Walker

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year – that's one in every four deaths. That’s why, during American Heart Month, Holy Cross Hospital would like to encourage you to care for yourself and your loved ones by reminding you of the importance of regular health screenings.

Heart disease affects different populations in different ways. For example, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, both Hispanic-American adults and Asian-American adults are less likely to have heart disease than non-Hispanic White adults. African-American adults are more likely to have high blood pressure and more likely to die from heart disease than non-Hispanic whites.

For people of all ethnicities, knowing and properly managing your biometric numbers such as your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, can prevent or delay heart disease and its complications.

Of special interest regarding blood pressure numbers, the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) have revised the guidelines for the detection, prevention, management and treatment of high blood pressure. The new guidelines – the first comprehensive set since 2003 – lower the definition of high blood pressure to account for complications that can occur at lower numbers and to allow for earlier intervention. Blood pressure categories in the new guidelines are:

•Normal: Less than 120/80 mm Hg

•Elevated: Systolic between 120-129 and diastolic less than 80

•Stage 1: Systolic between 130-139 or diastolic between 80-89

•Stage 2: Systolic at least 140 or diastolic at least 90 mm Hg

•Hypertensive crisis: Systolic over 180 and/or diastolic over 120, with patients needing prompt changes in medication if there are no other indications of problems, or immediate hospitalization if there are signs of organ damage

The best way to find out if your numbers are within a healthy range for your gender, height and age is to have annual health screenings. 

Additionally, having a primary care physician (PCP) who can coordinate your care is vital to your good health. 

A PCP typically specializes in family medicine, internal medicine or general practice. If you don’t have a PCP, finding one is easy. Just visit your insurance carrier’s website, look for the “find a doctor” area and follow the instructions.

If you have any changes in your health and you’ve got questions, call the nurse line offered by your medical plan. 

As your trusted health partner for life, Holy Cross Hospital is committed to helping you Live Your Whole Life by nurturing well-being through body, mind and spirit.


Sleep Apnea, the Phantom Cause of Heart Disease and Accidents

  • Posted Jan 31, 2011
  • Vicente Font, MD, FACP, FCCP, FACC

sleepSleep apnea syndrome is a major threat to health; 10% of men and 5% of women are estimated to have sleep apnea. Many deaths among people in their 40s and older, which are attributed to heart disease and transportation accidents, may actually be related to an unseen epidemic of snoring and sleep apnea. Apnea is indeed a potentially deadly phantom; it is the frequent stoppage of breathing caused by relaxed tissues in the throat during sleep. Snoring is caused by vibrations of the relaxed throat tissues and is often the precursor or companion of sleep apnea. Although effective medical treatment for sleep apnea exists, this information has not entered routine medical practice, nor does the public recognize the dangers. Unfortunately, even when apnea is suspected, it may be difficult to obtain qualified care. As a result, 95% of the millions of people who suffer from sleep apnea have not and may never be diagnosed, let alone treated. Nevertheless, the informed person with sleep apnea can take the initiative to get appropriate diagnosis and treatment and take the steps necessary to assure recovery.

Some cardiac problems associated with sleep apnea are known, and their risk may be diminished by treatment of the sleep apnea:

  • Sleep apnea increases your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, and diabetes.
  • People with coronary artery disease whose blood oxygen is lowered by sleep disordered breathing may be at risk of ventricular arrhythmias and nocturnal sudden death. CPAP treatment may reduce this risk.
  • In obstructive sleep apnea, often marked by snoring, the right side of the heart may suffer damage because it has to pump harder to support the extra effort of the lungs trying to overcome the obstruction of the airway. This condition may lead to heart failure.
  • Central apnea may cause high blood pressure, surges of adrenaline, and irregular heart rhythm. (Central apnea occurs without snoring and is not caused by obstruction, rather it is caused by the failure of the brain to signal for a breath)

Obstructive sleep apnea is overdue for public attention; it is the second leading cause of daytime fatigue, after insomnia. The worst, one-third of people with untreated sleep apnea has an increased auto crash rate and consequent fatalities. As you can see, poor sleep caused by sleep apnea is a major public health problem.

People with sleep apnea syndrome have a higher risk of death than the normal population. You may ask, if this is true, why is sleep apnea syndrome ignored? Well, you see, the most obvious symptom of sleep apnea syndrome, snoring, is seen by most people, even doctors, as an annoyance or joke, or even as a sign of good sleep. In fact, snoring and gasping may be the body's cry for help. People with sleep apnea suffer from repeated obstructions of the throat during sleep. They literally can't breathe while sleeping. They must wake up in order to breathe (but they don't usually recall these awakenings). This repeated fragmentation of sleep patterns keeps them from having normal, restorative sleep.

Even though effective medical treatment to overcome this epidemic is available, people who suffer from this problem usually don't realize it (after all, they are asleep while the damage is being done). Further, most patients usually don't remember their nightly struggles to breathe.

Treatment is not easy. Since the patient must use a treatment device every night in order to control this chronic condition, treatment may be incomplete or fail unless there is careful follow-up and very good communication between doctor and patient.

Unfortunately, sleep apnea cases are expected to increase due to the current epidemics of obesity, high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation and heart failure in the United States. Many more questions remain about sleep and sleep disorders, but if you think you have sleep apnea, visit your doctor to get evaluated.

To read future blog posts by Dr. Vicente Font, visit the Jim Moran Heart & Vascular Center Blog.

About Holy Cross Hospital

Holy Cross Hospital is a nonprofit, Catholic hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, dedicated to innovative, high quality and compassionate care. For nearly six decades, Holy Cross has continuously expanded its services to provide leading-edge care for their patients in Florida and for those from elsewhere in the United States. Holy Cross also offers an International Services program to ensure that patients from outside the U.S. receive the care they need.

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