The health of your heart determines the health of your life. A healthy heart allows you to work and play, go to the park with your children, pursue your favorite hobbies, go to sleep and get up the next day. We all take our hearts for granted, and that’s natural. We assume our hearts will continue to beat- until they don’t.
Heart disease is the Number One killer of men and women in America. And yet, we each have the power to make our hearts the healthiest that they can be. About 610,000 Americans die from heart disease each year—that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. That means it’s time for us to get serious about taking heart health.
The cardiologists at A & G Urgent Care throughout Brooklyn have the skill and experience to take care of your heart, helping you live a lifestyle that will keep it healthy, and treating heart disease should it occur. Placing your heart in the hands of a qualified cardiologist is serious business, and that’s why the seasoned cardiac experts at A & G Urgent Care should be taking care of you.
Why do I need to see a cardiologist?
There are many reasons to see a cardiologist including a history of family heart disease, the sudden onset of cardiac symptoms, and/or changes in your health that may impact the health of your heart. Your A & G Urgent Care primary care physician will know if you should be in the care of a cardiologist. If you suddenly experience the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, call 911 immediately and without delay. Your follow up care will be with a cardiologist.
A & G Urgent Care wants you to know the most common reasons why people see a cardiologist:
Your physician recommends it: If your primary care physician says you should see a cardiologist, make an appointment right away. Taking care of your heart is one of the most important things you will ever do.
Family history of heart disease: If anyone in your family has heart disease, you should be aware of the symptoms. You should also be aware of the risk factors for heart disease so that you can control as many of them as possible- weight, high blood pressure, smoking, etc.
High blood pressure and high cholesterol: These two factors greatly increase the risk of heart disease. If your total cholesterol is 200 mg/dL or your physician tells you that your blood pressure is consistently high.
You are now or used to be a smoker: Smoking greatly increases the risk of heart disease. It increases blood pressure and heart rate. It even damages the cells lining the arteries of your heart.
Changes in the way you feel: If you notice that you are consistently short of breath, you have chest pain with exertion, feel a rapid heartbeat that is accompanied by light-headedness or your almost faint, call your physician immediately. These are signs that your heart needs to be checked, and soon.
Common heart conditions
These are the most common heart conditions treated in the United States. If you experience any of these consult an A & G Urgent Care physician immediately. Do not wait for conditions to worsen.
The most common heart conditions include coronary artery disease, heart failure, Arrhythmia, aortic aneurysms, and heart defects. A & G cardiologists treat all of these conditions because when they are controlled, you can get on with your daily life.
Angina is the name for chest pain or pressure. It may feel like something heavy is sitting on your chest. Men feel this pain in the chest and radiating down the arm. Women most commonly feel the pain in their jaw, bra line or in their back. It can also occur in the shoulders or it may feel like indigestion. Angina isn’t a type of heart disease, rather it is a symptom of a heart problem like coronary heart disease.
The aorta is the main artery of the body and it carried blood from the heart to the rest of the body. An aortic aneurysm occurs when the aorta bulges. If the bulge bursts, it can cause a heart attack, stroke or death.
Arrhythmia is a condition that affects the rhythm of your heart so that it beats too fast, too slowly or at an irregular pace. Arrhythmias are extremely common and the American Heart Association says that millions of people have them, especially as we get older. A cardiologist will keep track of arrhythmia so that it does not impact the function of your heart and lead to more serious conditions.
- Atrial fibrillation, sometimes called “A fib”, is the most common type of arrhythmia. It’s caused by a problem with the heart’s electrical system that upsets the normal rhythm between the upper and lower parts of the heart. Cardiologists always address atrial fibrillation and care for it to prevent stroke.
- Ventricular tachycardia is a fast but regular rhythm. It is a dangerous condition because if it causes the heart beat to become fast and irregular it can stop the heart from pumping blood (ventricular fibrillation), which is a leading cause of sudden cardiac death.
Congenital heart defects exist at birth. It is also called congenital heart disease, although technically it is not a disease, it is a defect, or abnormality in the heart. There are different types of congenital heart defects and they result when the heart of the blood vessels near the heart don’t develop normally before birth.
Coronary artery disease causes heart attacks. It is the most common of all heart disease and it occurs when bad cholesterol narrows the arteries in your heart. In the early stages of the disease there are no symptoms. However when the plaque clogging the arteries block the blood flow, you will have chest pain, shortness of breath and feel fatigued. If part of the plaque in the artery comes off the artery wall, it forms a blood clot and blocks the artery. Then the blood can’t do its job delivering oxygen to part of the heart. As a result that part of the heart’s muscle becomes damaged and that is what we call a heart attack.
Heart failure, also called Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), doesn’t mean your heart stops working. It means that it fails to work normally. Heart failure occurs when your heart muscles become weak and stiff, your heart valves develop problems and your heart isn’t pumping blood like it should. When this happens either the heart doesn’t pump enough blood or it pumps too much. Fluid may back up in the lungs, abdomen and ankles. Sometimes people with CHF have a chronic cough or shortness of breath.
Heart Murmurs sound dangerous but most aren’t. A murmur is actually the sound of the blood flowing through your heart. When the physician listens to your heart, they may hear the murmur because of the way it is passing through the heart valve, or your heart may be beating faster and handling blood faster than it normally does. Most murmurs don’t require any treatment. They can occur because of anemia, high blood pressure, pregnancy, fever or even an overactive thyroid. Your cardiologist will keep track of your heart murmur and know when to take action if it indicates a more serious heart condition.
How can I improve my heart health?
The good news is that there are easy ways to make sure you have a healthy heart. If you have heart disease a cardiologist will be able to control and treat it. By following instructions carefully and paying attention to lifestyle factors, you can manage heart disease and avoid heart attack and stroke.
If you do not have underlying heart disease that’s even better news! Now you can take steps to avoid getting it. The most important thing to do is to never smoke, or stop smoking. Smoking is the number one most preventable cause of premature death in the United States. It’s ugly for the heart.
- It causes the arteries in the heart to narrow, which can cause heart attack or stroke.
- It increases the tendency for blood to clot, which prevents it from moving as it should through the heart and the body. Clots are dangerous and can cause heart attack and stroke.
It decreases good cholesterol.
- If you have a family history of heart disease, smoking is like adding a smoking gun to your risk.
- Smoking also creates a higher risk for peripheral artery disease and aortic aneurysm.
For a healthy heart, quit smoking.
A healthy diet and exercise make a healthy heart.
Your heart loves good food. It’s easier to eat healthy than you may think. You can follow these simple rules to eat in a way that makes your body feel good and your heart strong.
- Buy colorful, fresh foods that are red, green and yellow.
- Eat whole grains and brown rice.
- Avoid fried foods.
- Eat fish and poultry without the skin.
- Nuts, beans and legumes like lentils are easy to find and good for you.
- Avoid eating too much salt and fat.
Those are the basics. If you follow those guidelines it will lead you to foods that give you energy and make your heart healthy. They are easy to cook, easy to pack for lunches and good for after school snacks. A healthy heart begins when we are young!
A & G nutritionists can help you to design a food plan for you and your family that is easy to incorporate into your busy schedule. If you have been diagnosed with heart disease, our nutritionists can work with you to develop a heart healthy eating plan.
The key to getting enough exercise for your heart is to do things you love. You don’t have to become a marathon runner to get the exercise your heart needs. Little things become big things;
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Park at the far end of the parking lot and walk
- Run around the playground with the kids
- Take the dog for a walk
- Dance around the living room to music on the television
- Get up and walk around the parking lot at lunch time
- Walk around the neighborhood on the weekends
All of these things add up to an active lifestyle, one that your heart loves. The more your heart works, the stronger it becomes. It is a muscle after all, and the more it works the more it pumps blood through your body; making you feel better and healthier. A & G cardiologists will work with you to develop an activity plan appropriate for your current heart health, with an eye toward improving and strengthening it.