When Should I worry About Chest Pain?

When Should I worry About Chest Pain? Chest pain can be alarming, since the symptoms of a heart attack are often varied and inconsistent from person to person. When should you go to the hospital for chest pain? If there is any doubt about the cause of the pain, it’s always best to err on the side of safety and visit the ER or call your doctor. What is Thrombosis? A thrombosis definition is simple enough, but there are many conditions related to the diagnosis. Thrombosis is, quite simply, the thickening of the blood within the vessels- commonly known as a blood clot. A clot can slow the flow of blood to a specific area, leading to pain, swelling, and tissue death. It can cause severe damage within the body, even leading to a heart attack. If you suspect you have a blood clot, seek a doctor’s attention immediately. What is Thrombosis Disease? Many conditions can cause thrombosis, disease of the vascular system, heart, and other systems can all contribute to excessive clotting. A lack of movement or poor circulation can also lead to thrombosis. When the blood coagulates inside of a vein, the resulting clot restricts or stops blood flow, leading to further damage and sometimes aggravating already-existing conditions. Trauma, injury, disease, illness, lack of movement and circulatory issues can all contribute to thrombosis. Deep Vein Thrombosis Deep vein thrombosis is a clot that has become lodged in one of the deep veins in the body, usually the legs. The result can be redness, pain, swelling, weakness, nausea, and the clot can break loose and travel to the...

Leaking Heart Valves

Leaking Heart Valves Patients living with leaking heart valves have more options than ever. A bio heart valve or mechanical heart valve may be the best option to repair a damaged heart. A leaking heart valve not only puts additional strain on the hardest-working muscle in your body, it can lead to aneurism or separation and further damage to your heart. Mechanical Heart Valve One option patients may be offered is heart valve replacement. A mechanical heart valve has several advantages. Primarily, there is little to no risk of the valve itself being rejected by the body. A mechanical valve may not wear out as quickly as a bovine (harvested from a cow) or porcine (harvested from a pig) heart valve. Patients may, however, require blood thinners when living with a mechanical heart valve. How Long Do Pig Valves Last in Humans? The answer varies. The valves last an average of seven to ten years in patients over 65. Conditions affecting the metabolism of calcium in the body, especially in children and young adults, increase the chances and the speed of failure of a bio heart valve. Bio Heart Valve A bio heart valve, which is harvested from either a cow or pig heart may be implanted either using a structure called a stent, or may be “stentless.” The likelihood of a bio heart valve failing depends on the individual patient’s condition and a number of other factors.  Your doctor can help you decide which type of valve is right for you when considering bicuspid aortic valve replacement options. Biological Heart Valve Pros and Cons The primary advantage of...

What is a Normal Pulse Range

What is a Normal Pulse Range Following surgery, vital signs are carefully monitored in the hospital. You may find that your heart rate after open heart surgery has changed. Symptoms like a speeded up heart rate or a pulse deficit may indicate an fibrillation problem.  Normal Pulse Range The normal pulse rate for adults at rest ranges from 60-100 beats per minute. The normal pulse range can change after a surgery or under continuing stress. It’s important to check with your doctor to ensure your vital signs are where they should be for you. Everyone is different. An “average” is what’s normal for most people in the general population. What’s normal for you may vary. Pulse Deficit A pulse deficit occurs when your doctor can find a difference between the number of heartbeats observed with a monitor (like a stethoscope or EKG) and the pulse that’s able to be felt at the wrist or other pulse point. A pulse deficit happens when your heart is beating but the pulse isn’t reaching the extremities. It may indicate a weakness in your heart, atrial fibrillation, or very early ectopic beats. Vital Signs Your vital signs are the best indicator of your overall heart health. If you’re experiencing a change in your heart rate after open heart surgery, you will want to discuss your heart rate and blood pressure with your doctor. It’s important to learn to monitor your own heart rate at resting and during exercise so that you have a baseline to refer to when checking your pulse.  If you have any questions following your treatment or about your heart...

Benefits of a Low Sodium Diet

Benefits of a Low Sodium Diet Anyone who has a family history of hypertension has heard the term “low sodium diet.” It sounds like a bland way of eating that deprives the eater of flavor and interest in food, but it doesn’t have to be that way. As Americans, we consume a constant stream of processed foods, but given the chance, it’s possible to retrain ourselves to enjoy a wider range of flavors. Low Sodium Diet While at first, the idea of reducing one’s salt intake may imply the loss of flavor, the exact opposite is true. In processed foods, salt is used to mask the flavor of chemicals and to replace the natural flavors lost in the cooking and preservative processes. When salt is reduced in our diets, those flavors have a chance to emerge, and our tastes adjust to enjoy the natural flavors in foods once again. Choosing a low-sodium diet isn’t just better for your overall health, it opens up new vistas of enjoyment in your eating that will make you fall in love with food again. Blood Pressure The American Heart Association has known for decades that a diet high in sodium content is one of the factors that contributes to hypertension, a leading cause of heart disease. High blood pressure puts a strain on the heart and vascular system and can cause irreversible damage. Getting blood pressure under control takes more than just a change in the diet. A fitness routine and increased activity level, as well as reducing overall stress and engaging in more enjoyable activities like hobbies will help reduce blood pressure...

What is a Heart Murmur and What are the Signs?

What is a Heart Murmur and What are the Signs? A heart murmur is an unusual sound in the heartbeat’s cycle that’s caused by blood moving improperly through the valve system of the heart. The normal “lub-dub” sound that can be heard through a stethoscope is the sound of the heart valves opening and closing as they guide the blood through the heart during normal circulation. A murmur occurs when the valves aren’t doing their jobs properly and blood is flowing backward through the heart instead of following the normal pathways. Symptoms A heart murmur can cause poor circulation, which may result in cold or bluish extremities, especially the fingertips, toes, and lips. A victim may also experience swelling and weight gain, heavy sweating with minimal exertion, dizziness and fainting, chest pain, chronic cough, or shortness of breath. In young children and infants, symptoms may also include a poor appetite and a failure to grow normally. Any of these symptoms should be a sign that it’s time to talk to your doctor about underlying causes for your symptoms. Types of Heart Murmurs There are two types of heart murmurs; “innocent” and “abnormal.” An innocent heart murmur is caused by blood flowing more rapidly than normal through the heart. This can be caused by physical activity, pregnancy, fever, anemia, and even rapid growth phases during development. Innocent heart murmurs may disappear over time or stay with the patient their entire lives without causing further complications. Abnormal heart murmurs may be caused by a variety of reasons, like disease, surgery, trauma, congenital heart problems,  or other medical conditions, and are more...

Did you Know? Higher Risk of Blood Clots while Traveling/Flying

Did you Know? Higher Risk of Blood Clots while Traveling/Flying Long distance traveling can increase the risk of deep vein thrombosis, also known as a blood clot. Long distance flights or rides that last more than four hours may increase your risk of a blood clot. Knowing the risk, and how to minimize it, can make travel much safer. Risk Factors Not everyone experiences the same risk of blood clots. Certain conditions can increase your risk, and may affect your ability to travel long distances safely. Certain cancers, recent surgeries, and chronic inflammatory diseases increase your risk. Other risk factors include pregnancy, age (if you’re over 60,) a family or personal history of blood clots, smoking, a recent trauma, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and prior central line placement. If you have any of these conditions, it’s important to talk to your doctor when planning a long trip. Signs to Watch Out For When you’re sitting in a confined space for any length of time, the risk of a blood clot forming increases. The blood flow is restricted, meaning that there are more opportunities for clots to take shape. The risk factor increases the longer you remain in a confined position. The longer the flight or drive, the greater the risk of a blood clot forming. In some cases, a clot will dissolve naturally, without the sufferer ever being aware it existed. In others, however, it can break loose and travel to the heart or lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism or even a heart attack. If you experience swelling in the leg, ankle or calf, redness or...