Tag Archives: heart problems

#GoRedCbus ~ When should you learn about Heart Failure?

BW ARA labcoatThe American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women event February 23, 2017 gave Columbus information about Heart Health for Women, and provided opportunity to support AHA in advocacy, research, and education.


Left – right, JS, Dr. Albers, Dr. Basuray

Dr Anup Basuray (photo) presented a breakout session on a complex topic. The name Heart Failure does not in fact mean a heart has stopped working (my engineer/math husband is one of many who question the name Heart Failure – but this has been and remains our wording). The term is broad covering symptoms that occur when the heart is not fully functioning – leading to symptoms including shortness of breath, leg swelling, abdominal swelling, fatigue, and/or weight gain or loss. In his presentation, Prevent. Treat. Recover. : Transforming Heart Failure into a Success Story Dr. Basuray highlighted examples of young women patients he has treated. His case presentations illustrated the different ways people get heart failure; some specific to women, for example in the case of problems associated with pregnancy.

Heart Failure is diverse in cause, outcomes, and treatment. The slide here shows ~ 10 causes of Heart Failure, more recently identified is history of cancer treatment, and also included is ‘unknown‘ or doctor-speak, idiopathic. Heart valve disease, genetics (inherited causes), high blood pressure, drugs and alcohol, infection, coronary artery disease, pregnancy related, and irregular heart rate/rhythm can all be causes of Heart Failure.

Heart Failure results in fluid retention by the kidneys, a problem that is worse with high sodium diet. Western diets have high sodium – top sources are Breads and rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, pizza, poultry, soups, sandwiches, cheese, pasta dishes, meat dishes, SNACKS. Reading labels and being aware of sodium is key to heart health in general and to limiting fluid retention in Heart Failure in particular. Knowledge is power when considering what we eat – see here https://hearthealthdocs.com/heart-healthy-diet/  , and for surprising sources of salt https://hearthealthdocs.com/2016/06/08/surprise-sources-of-salt-in-your-diet/

Dr. Basuray addressed the power of prevention and how to stay healthy by knowing the following KEY modifiable risk factors for heart failure

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • High cholesterol

Know your numbers

  • Blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes (blood glucose) screen
  • Every 4-6 years, as early as age 20

2013 AHA/ACC Heart Failure Guidelines 

So when should you learn about Heart Failure? Now is good. Same with choosing to live a heart healthier life.

Heart Health Docs recommended resources:


Atrial fibrillation – A Common Heart Condition

IMG_8348rt5x7bwRecently, Dr. Albers and myself were asked to participate in the “Living with Heart Disease” lecture series sponsored by the American College of Cardiology. I spoke about a very common type of irregular heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation. If you or a family member has suffered from this condition, you may find this presentation helpful, as I discussed the causes, symptoms, and common treatments of this condition. here is a link to a video of my recent presentation.  As always, only a physician who has personally assessed you can give specific advice about your (or your family member’s) condition.

If you want to learn more about atrial fibrillation or many other heart conditions, an excellent resource is the CardioSmart website which we refer to often in our blog.

#Heart Health for Women; Start here this Valentine’s Day #LoveYourHeart

IMG_2641 ara echoWhat better day to talk about the Heart than Valentine’s Day?

More science is showing the benefit of starting early with habits that promote heart health.  Treatments already available & scientifically proven are UNDERUTILIZED: would you think 20% was a good score?! No. But 80% of people eligible for cardiac rehab DON’T take part in this essential treatment / program.

This post covers TWO topics for Women’s Heart Health:

  • A recent study showing the impact of 20 years of healthy choices for young women 
  • A NEW program to promote the established, effective heart treatment Cardiac Rehab.

Heart month is a great time to bring attention to what we know about preventing heart disease as well as what opportunities are available for managing heart risk.

  • A recent study showing the impact of 20 years of healthy choices for young women 

In 2015 we have learned about healthy habits or behaviors that impact RISK for developing heart disease with PRIMARY prevention. A paper published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) in January reports the impact of 6 habits on the risk of heart disease for women. This study,

Healthy Lifestyle in the Primordial Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease Among Young Women

looked at a group of young women ages 27-44 years old and followed them over 20 years. Can you think of what the 6 healthy behaviors might be? We have covered them here on HeartHealthDoctors – like a lot of heart healthy changes they are available to us NOW. So pick one and START living a healthy lifestyle:

A healthy lifestyle was defined as not smoking, a normal body mass index, physical activity ≥ 2.5 h/week, television viewing ≤ 7 h/week, diet in the top 40% of the Alternative Healthy Eating Index–2010, and 0.1 to 14.9 g/day of alcohol.

1) Not smoking

2) Get to GOAL weight which is a normal Body Mass Index (BMI)

3) Move your body through space; physical activity at least 2 1/2 hours per week

4) TV viewing < or equal to 7 hours per week

5) Follow a heart healthy diet 

6) If a woman chooses to drink alcohol, amount of 1 drink per day or 12 oz beer, 4 oz wine, or 1.5 oz liquor correlates to ~14gm

Marlene Busko writes for Medscape about the JACC paper that ” Adoption of six healthy lifestyle behaviors could avert about 73% of coronary heart disease (CHD) cases among women over 20 years, as well as 46% of diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia, conclude researchers, based on their analysis of about 69 000 participants …”

Key to know with the Nurse’s Health Study findings is that Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) risk was lower for women without AND with heart disease risk factors BOTH groups showed decreased events with more healthy lifestyle habits/behaviors.

  • A NEW program to promote the established, effective heart treatment Cardiac Rehab.

At OhioHealth we have launched a cardiac rehab program for women to help give every opportunity to succeed at SECONDARY prevention and prevent or slow disease progression. To improve the ‘ low test score of 20%’ participation in Cardiac Rehab the OhioHealth Women’s Heart and Vascular Program launched a program for cardiac rehab designed for women. Education and exercise in the company of other women with heart disease offers a new way to help women who have had a heart event (Chest Pain, Heart Attack, Coronary artery Stent, Heart Valve surgery, Coronary artery bypass surgery) and are starting on their SECONDARY prevention journey.

Read more about Cardiac Rehab here; 10TV News did a great story / coverage of the Women’s Cardiac Rehab program (click text to view story and video).



Cardiac Rehab~Have you heard of it? #hearthealth @CardioSmart #CardiacRehab #exerciseworks

BW ARA labcoatHeart and Vascular Health result from a mix of a lot of different ingredients; we cover many of these ingredients here at the Heart Health Doctors (for example exercise, diet). Think of mixing or using the best ingredients possible (healthy weight, not smoking, healthy diet, staying active) as PRIMARY prevention (for someone who has never had a heart event).

Another important way to work on the ‘ingredients’ is by SECONDARY prevention – how to regain strength, heal after injury, and build back to great Heart & Vascular Health after an EVENT.

Cardiac Rehab is how. The event that will trigger going to Cardiac Rehab may be having a heart stent, a heart attack, open heart surgery for bypass of blocked heart arteries, valve replacement or repair, chest pain or angina, or most recently, a diagnosis of congestive heart failure; even a combination of these.

It would be great to have Cardiac PREhab programs; for now that is what we do at our blog – education for maintaining heart and vascular health.

Cardiac Rehab remains the program that can reduce mortality (death) by 25% if people who have had a heart event complete the program when compared with people who have had a heart event who did not complete a Cardiac Rehab program.

This CardioSmart video gives a great overview of Cardiac Rehab.

The benefits of Cardiac Rehab in our communities cannot be overstated. Often patients will tell me that they plan to “exercise on their own” or that (women here) they are busy making sure their families are organized and cared for, so “no time.” One program offers discount rate for a spouse to attend rehab sessions and exercise with the patient to help increase participation. I encourage and – to use doctor terminology – order my patients to enroll and participate in Cardiac Rehab despite excuses.

At Cardiac Rehab the exercise is monitored – so the patient’s physician learns of any heart arrhythmia, or of any blood pressure issue (under or over treatment). The patient learns about their heart disease, heart healthy habits, how to follow their personal exercise prescription, eat heart healthy, and how to identify and manage stress. It is time well spent. A challenge for patients of late unfortunately can be cost; many programs have financial aid to help patients attend and complete a rehab program, but I had no argument for my patient whose co-pays for cardiac rehab would have approached $2000 for his sessions. He simply could not participate. The hope is that that is an exception; insurers have the data that shows Cardiac Rehab programs result in patients having fewer followup procedures, come out with better quality of life, and are more prepared to succeed with SECONDARY prevention.

Often patients have up to a year to enroll in a Cardiac Rehab program after a qualifying heart EVENT.  Make it a priority to include this therapy and improve Heart & Vascular Health.



Does Running Really Help your Heart . . . . and Your Spouse’s Too?

IMG_8348rt5x7bwIt is commonly accepted that regular physical activity, such as running, can improve your overall health and reduce the risk of chronic disease. But can more extreme exercise, such as marathon running, actually increase our risk of heart problems, perhaps by ‘straining’ or ‘overtraining’ our heart and circulation (fortunately, the actual risk of a cardiac event during extreme exertion such as a marathon is very low)?   Recently, researchers in Hartford reported on a very interesting study- they recruited Boston Marathon participants to undergo a vascular ultrasound and physical prior to the marathon, in order to compare the plaque buildup in their carotid arteries to average non-runners. But what was most interesting was that they also recruited the runner’s spouses for the same checkup – and noted if they were runners or non-runners. Their theory was that the spouses would have the same “heart healthy” lifestyle as their running mates, minus the endurance training.

RunningSo what did they find? This article from the New York Times has the details (and this link is to the original research article) . . . .essentially they showed that the runners were indeed  healthy overall, with generally better body weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol than non-runners. . . but many still had significant plaque buildup in their hearts, especially if they were older or had ongoing risk factors such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol.  So running did not cancel out the effects of other risk factors, but did not increase heart risk either. What can we conclude from this research? Running, or other high level fitness, improves health and reduces risk – but does not excuse us from monitoring our blood pressure, our weight, our diet, or our cholesterol levels.

The most intriguing conclusion? It turns out the spouses of the runners, even if not runners themselves, had better than expected risk profiles and plaque buildup, probably from the same heart healthy lifestyle that most runners employ. The article quotes the lead researcher as saying:  If you want improved heart health but can’t be a runner, marry one!   Hopefully my wife finds that advice reassuring!

Here is more information of the benefits of exercise on the heart and the benefits of exercise on delaying dementia.