Broken Heart Syndrome

Can someone be diagnosed with a “broken heart”? The answer is yes.

Broken heart syndrome is caused by the heart’s reaction to a surge of stress hormones, which causes an irregular heartbeat and can be accompanied by symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath. When someone experiences a broken heart, (not to be confused with a heart attack) the blood flow in the arteries is reduced. Also known as a takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or stress-induced cardiomyopathy, it can be brought on by various stressful situations.

Some triggers of broken heart syndrome include:
• A break-up, divorce or death of a loved one
• Experiencing or recovering from a natural disaster
• Job loss

Some medications can contribute to broken heart syndrome such as epinephrine- taken for allergic reactions, as well as certain prescriptions that treat anxiety, depression, or thyroid issues.

Broken heart syndrome can be treated once your physician medically rules out any other possible cardiac issues. Treatment will most likely focus on reducing the workload of your heart.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

World Heart Day

September 29th has been designated as “World Heart Day”. This observance serves to bring international attention to the dangers of cardiovascular disease. According to the World Heart Federation, over 17.3 million deaths occur each year due to cardiovascular disease. By the year 2030, it is expected that this number will rise to 23 million. This makes it the leading cause of death in the world.

The most common cardiovascular diseases include coronary heart disease (heart attack) and cerebrovascular disease (stroke).
Ways to control heart disease and protect the heart:
• Keep active – a minimum of 30 minutes a day of physical activity or exercise
• Do not smoke – if you do smoke, quit and if you don’t smoke, don’t start
• Healthy eating – A healthy diet includes fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, lean meat and fish
• Maintain a healthy weight – keep away from food that is high in sodium and sugar or contains unsaturated fat
• Keep blood pressure under control
• Take medication as prescribed to control cholesterol, pressure, and diabetes if present

It is very important to know the warning signs of heart disease.  For instance, a person who is experiencing a heart attack will often experience chest pain (fullness, squeezing, pressure), discomfort in areas of the upper body ( neck, jaw, arms, back), shortness of breath, and may also experience nausea, lightheadedness, and cold sweats. A person who is experiencing a stroke may have sudden trouble seeing, sudden confusion, a severe headache, loss of balance, trouble speaking, and sudden numbness and weakness of the face, arms and legs that is often just one-sided.

It is very important to receive a medical check-up at least once a year to ensure that your heart is healthy. If you would like to schedule an appointment with a physician at Flushing Hospital please call 718-670-5486

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All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

How To Stay Heart Healthy in the Winter

When asked which season has the highest incidence of cardiovascular problems, most wouldn’t guess the winter, but it is true, especially in cities like New York City, which are known for harsh weather conditions.

One of the main reasons for this is our blood vessels constrict in the cold weather. This happens because our bodies work hard to protect vital organs such as our brain and lungs from extreme conditions by preserving blood flow. As a result, our heart has to beat harder and faster to supply the rest of the body with the oxygen it needs.  As your heart rate and blood pressure increase, you raise your risk of blood clots, stroke, and heart attack.

Another factor for increasing our risk of developing cardiovascular disease in the winter is our diet. Both the quality and quantity of food we consume can have a significant role in our heart health during any time of the year, but it is especially important during cold weather months because to digest a heavy meal requires increased blood flow to the stomach, which, for previously stated reasons, can be difficult due to blood vessel constriction.

In addition to cold weather, the winter also brings with it an increased risk of contracting the influenza (flu) virus.  Flu season typically is most prevalent during the winter months and fighting it (as well as other viruses) can place an increased amount of stress on the heart and can drain the body of its energy.  For those with an already weakened heart, such as the elderly or those with a weakened immune system, this can be very dangerous.

Loneliness and depression have also been linked to an increased risk of heart attack by as much as 30%.  The development and maintaining of social relationships is never more difficult than during the winter months due to a variety of factors. One major factor is the weather. The frigid conditions limit the ability to attend social events. In addition, the days are shorter and darker in the winter, which can also increase the likelihood of depression.

Lastly, the winter weather can also limit an individual’s ability to properly maintain their health.  This can include interfering with a person’s ability to exercise regularly as well as allowing them access to critical healthcare resources, such as seeing their provider when they aren’t feeling well or refilling their medications. Failure to do so can have harmful effects on someone’s heart health.

Recognizing the increased heart health risk factors in the winter and taking steps to address them are vital to staying healthy in the winter. This includes making sure to avoid very cold temperatures and dressing warm, eating a heart healthy diet, getting your flu shot, maintaining social relationships, and closely monitoring your health, including seeing your doctor regularly and adhering to your medications.

To make an appointment with a physician at Flushing Hospital Medical Center, please call our Ambulatory Care Center at 718-670-5486.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Have You Ever Experienced Heart Palpitations?

Experiencing heart palpitations can be a very frightening experience. Palpitations have been described as feeling like the heart is fluttering, beating too fast, too hard, or like you are skipping a beat.

Palpitations are often benign. In most instances they may be caused by::

  • Too much stressheart palpitations
  • Too much anxiety
  • Too much vigorous activity
  • Too much caffeine
  • Too much alcohol
  • Too much nicotine
  • Thyroid disease
  • Anemia
  • Pregnancy
  • Depression
  • High fever
  • Taking too much of certain types of medications such as stimulants found in cold and cough medications , asthma inhalers, and some herbal supplements.

However, there are other situations in which they can indicate the presence of a very serious problem, like a heart attack or a stroke.

Sometimes heart palpitations can be due to heart disease, especially in people who have had prior heart attacks, have heart valve problems, heart muscle problems, and coronary artery disease. When palpitations are accompanied by chest pain, fainting, shortness of breath, or dizziness, it is important to seek emergency care right away.

There are a few tests that your doctor may order to find the cause of the palpitations. These include blood tests, EKG, Holter Monitoring, chest x-ray, and an echocardiogram.

Depending on the cause, you may be able to reduce the risk of palpitations by limiting stress, the consumption of nicotine, alcohol or caffeine.  Medications such as beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers can also be helpful.

Speak to your physician if you are experiencing palpitations to see if they can understand why this is occurring. You may also schedule an appointment with a physician at Flushing Hospital Medical Center by calling 718-670-5486.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

10 Interesting Facts About The Human Heart

Ours hearts are essential to our survival. They are part of our circulatory system and they are responsible for pumping oxygen-rich blood throughout our body, but how much do we really know about our heart?

Here are 10 interesting facts about the human heart that you may not have known:

  • The average heart is the size of an adult fist.
  • Your heart will beat about 115,000 times each day.
  • The beating sound your heart makes is caused by the opening and closing of its valves.
  • Each day, your heart pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood.
  • If you were to stretch out your blood vessel system, it would extend over 60,000 miles.
  • The human heart weighs less than one pound, but a man’s heart is typically two ounces heavier than a woman’s.
  • A woman’s heart beats slightly faster than a man’s.
  • There is such a thing as a broken heart. Symptoms are similar to a heart attack but the cause is usually stress and not heart disease.
  • Laughing is good for your heart. It reduces stress and gives a boost to your immune system.

While these facts are meant to be light and fun, the most important thing to understand is how important it is to maintain proper heart health. By eating right and exercising, you can remain heart healthy.

To speak with a doctor at Flushing Hospital about your heart health, please call 718-670-5486.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

The History of the EKG Machine

An EKG machine measures the electrical activity of the heart. It displays this activity by drawing waves on a piece of paper that is either displayed on a screen or drawn on a piece of paper that runs through a machine.
• Late 1700’s – The first step in the development of the modern electrocardiograph machine was the creation of a machine that could sense, but not measure, electric current. This machine was called a galvanometer.
• 1786 an Italian physician, Dr. Luigi Galvan, discovered that skeletal muscles worked by producing electric current. In
• 1842 Dr. Carlo Matteucci working at the University of Pisa discovered that there is an electrical current that comes with each heart beat in a frog.
• Mid 1800’s a machine called the “Rheotome” was invented that could now measure this electrical current.
• 1872 – further refinements to this Rheotome led to a machine devised by Gabrrile Lippman  of the “capillary electrometer”.
During this time, a British physiologist, Augustus Waller, was able to record the first human electrocardiogram that using this technology with electrodes placed on the chest and back of a patient. This demonstrated electric activity taking place before ventricular contraction. In
• 1893 – Dr. Wilhelm Einthoven, a Dutch physiologist,  refined the capillary electrometer to show five deflections in the electrical current passing through the heart. The five waves were initially called ABCDE, but were changed to PQRST after a mathematical correction was made to compensate for the inertia in the capillary tube. He used the phrase “electrocardiogram” for the first time at a meeting of Dutch physicians.  In
• 1901 – Dr. Eintoven he developed a string galvanometer, a more sensitive machine. He  was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology for his invention of the electrocardiograph.
As time passed, the electrocardiograph machine became much smaller and much more accurate. In 1903 it weighed 600 pounds and by 1930 it weighed about 30 pounds. The importance of an electrocardiograph was recognized as being essential in diagnosing cardiac from non-cardiac pain and able to help diagnose a myocardial infarction or a heart attack. Today we use a 12 lead electrocardiogram as a major tool in diagnosing heart disease. The machine today weighs just a few pounds and is an essential tool in diagnosing diseases of the heart.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

February is American Heart Month

Over 50 years ago President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed the month of February to be American Heart Month in order to bring attention to one of the leading causes of death in the United States. This tradition has been carried on by every President since.
Each year over 800,000 lives are taken as a result of heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.  Every 84 seconds someone in the United States dies from the disease and each year approximately 750,000 people experience a heart attack and of those, about 115,000 will not survive.
The American Heart Association recommends the following behavioral modifications to prevent heart disease:
• Avoid smoking
• Engage in some form of daily physical activity
• Follow a healthy diet
• Maintain a healthy body weight
• Control cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels
The death rate from heart disease has been improving slowly over the last decade due to advances in medications, better diagnostic capabilities, and better access to health care, but the statistics are still pretty alarming. If you would like to schedule an appointment with a cardiologist at Jamaica Hospital, please call 718-670-5486.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Benefits of Eating Dark Chocolate

Dark Chocolate has received a great deal of attention because it’s believed to help protect your cardiovascular system. The reason being is that the cocoa bean is rich in a class of plant nutrients called flavonoids.

Higher grades of dark chocolate are where you will find an abundance of flavonoids.

Some benefits to adding a moderate amount of dark chocolate to your diet are:

  • Nutrition – If the dark chocolate you are eating has a high cocoa content it will also have a sufficient amount of soluble fiber and will be rich with minerals.
  • Antioxidants – Dark chocolate is loaded with organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants, such as polyphenols, flavanols and catechins to name a few.
  • Blood Flow and Hypertension – The bioactive compounds in cocoa have been known to improve blood flow in the arteries and cause a small but significant decrease in blood pressure.
  • Heart Disease – Eating dark chocolate has shown to be beneficial in improving several important risk factors for heart disease, reducing insulin resistance, increase high density lipoprotein (HDL or “good” cholesterol) and decreasing low density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad” cholesterol). These reductions could show decrease in cardiovascular disease.

Be careful about the type of dark chocolate you choose: chewy caramel-marshmallow-nut-covered dark chocolate is by no means a heart-healthy food option. Watch out for those extra ingredients that can add lots of extra fat and calories.

There is currently no established serving size of dark chocolate to help you reap the cardiovascular benefits it may offer, and more research is needed in this area. So, for now, it is recommended that a moderate portion of chocolate (e.g., 1 ounce) a few times per week is sufficient while eating other flavonoid-rich foods (lettuce, almonds, strawberries, celery oranges, etc.).

Even though there is evidence that eating dark chocolate can provide health benefits, it doesn’t mean you should over indulge.  It is still loaded with calories and easy to overeat.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Blood Pressure – Keeping it Under Control in the New Year

It is the beginning of the New Year and many of us will make resolutions to do things better than the previous year. For many people this means living healthy, losing weight, and keeping our blood pressure under control.
High blood pressure affects one in three Americans. If not controlled well it can lead to kidney problems, damaged blood vessels, stroke, and heart attacks. There are many factors that can cause blood pressure to be elevated including obesity, stress, smoking, high sodium diets and elevated cholesterol. Ideally, managing some of these factors can help to maintain a blood pressure that is as close to normal range (120/80mmHg) as possible.
There are many ways that doctors can help us to control our blood pressure, Your doctor can prescribe medication that will help. Additionally other methods include:
• Quitting smoking
• Lose weight
• Stress reduction
• Exercise regularly
• Eat less salty food
• Eliminate beverages that contain caffeine
• Eat dark chocolate
• Cut back on sugar
• Drink less alcohol
Keeping your blood pressure under control is probably one of the most important things you can do to keep yourself healthy. Speak to your doctor about methods that would work best for you.
If you would like to schedule an appointment with a doctor at Flushing Hospital to discuss how you can lower your blood pressure in 2018, please call 718-670-5486.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Tips For Living With AFib

Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is one of the most common forms of heart arrhythmia.  It is estimated that up to six million people living in the United States are affected by this condition.

When a person has AFib their heartbeat is irregular. The upper chambers of the heart are out of sync with the lower chambers.  Irregularities in the rhythm of the heart can increase their risk for complications such as stroke or heart failure.

Living with AFib poses challenges that can affect several aspects of a person’s health.  However, there are lifestyle changes that can be applied to help improve quality of life.  Here are a few:

  • Diet- A heart-healthy diet is important for overall good health and offers many benefits to those living with AFib. Eat foods that are low in sodium and fat. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol is recommended as these substances have been known to trigger AFib episodes.
  • Using medications as advised- There are over-the-counter (OTC) drugs that can have adverse effects. Some OTC cold medications and nasal sprays may contain substances that aggravate AFib. Certain multivitamins and herbal remedies, when combined with prescription medications, can also result in adverse reactions. Therefore, it is highly recommended to speak with a physician before taking any drugs or supplements.
  • Exercise- Adopting an exercise routine that fits your life can help strengthen your heart and improve stamina. As a person living with AFib, it is advised that you speak with your doctor about your exercise regimen because participating in activities that are too rigorous may lead to complications. Exercise also promotes the production of feel-good hormones.
  • Keep stress levels low- High levels of stress or intense bouts of anger can cause heart rates to quicken- this is not good for AFib. Find ways to keep stress to a minimum. Participating in activities such as taking walks or yoga can help to alleviate stress and decrease depression or anxiety.

The key to improving your health while living with AFib involves incorporating these tips as well as communicating with your doctor.   He or she will recommend a care plan for you to follow.

To schedule an appointment with a cardiologist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-206-7001.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.