How Does Winter Weather Increase Your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease?

Woman standing outdoors in a grey winter outfit clutching her chest with both hands and grimacing in pain in a concept of a heart attack or cardiac problemIt’s important to be aware of the effects that cold, windy winter weather can have on your cardiovascular system. For some people, this weather can increase the risk of developing a serious medical problem; for others, particularly people who already have a cardiovascular condition, this weather can worsen the symptoms they experience and potentially lead to further complications. 

The heart plays a vital role in maintaining your internal body temperature. If this temperature can’t stay above 95 degrees Fahrenheit, you could experience hypothermia, leading to potential symptoms such as a lack of coordination, fatigue, and confusion. To avoid this, your heart may have to work harder to keep you warm. This stress on your heart is even greater if you’re performing a physical outdoor activity, such as shoveling snow or jogging. You may begin to experience symptoms such as chest pain or even a heart attack. 

There are certain steps you can take to protect yourself against these risks throughout the winter season. Some of these include:

  • Taking frequent breaks to rest while performing a physical activity
  • Wearing multiple warm layers (including at least one water-resistant outer layer)
  • Staying hydrated, particularly while performing a physical activity

If you have a heart condition, are at risk of developing one, or are experiencing symptoms, you should consult a cardiologist to explore the most effective precautions you can take to protect your health during the winter season. You can schedule an appointment with a cardiologist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center by calling (718) 206-7100.

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.

What are Heart Tumors?

Heart tumors are growths that develop in the heart. They can form in many different parts of the heart, such as the:

  • Endocardium (the tissue that lines the chambers of the heart)
  • Myocardium (the muscle tissue of the heart)
  • Pericardium (the sac surrounding the heart)
  • Heart valves (which control the flow of blood through the heart)

Most of the time, heart tumors develop due to cancer that has spread from other parts of the body. These are referred to as metastatic heart tumors. Certain types of cancer, such as lung, breast, kidney, or esophageal cancer, are more likely to lead to the growth of these tumors than others. Metastatic heart tumors occur most commonly in people who have melanoma, affecting up to approximately 65% of people with this type of cancer.

Only a small number of heart tumors are primary tumors, meaning that they first developed in the heart. The vast majority of primary heart tumors are not cancerous, but even these can pose serious health risks, such as blood flow problems, blood clots, or stroke.  Some examples of primary heart tumors include:

  • Myxoma (the most common benign primary heart tumor; it usually affects the left atrium)
  • Papillary fibroelastoma (benign tumor that usually develops in heart valves)
  • Lipoma (benign tumor that typically grows in the left ventricle, right atrium, or atrial septum)
  • Angiosarcoma (the most common cancerous primary heart tumor; this usually grows in the right atrium or pericardium)
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma (the most common cancerous primary heart tumor in children)

Heart tumors are typically diagnosed through imaging tests, such as an echocardiogram, cardiac MRI or CT scan, and/or a PET scan. Your doctor will most likely order these tests if you have cancer in another part of your body and have started to develop heart problems. Primary heart tumors are more difficult to diagnose than metastatic tumors, as their symptoms are similar to other conditions; they are typically discovered as incidental findings through diagnostic tests ordered for other medical problems.

If you have developed symptoms of a heart condition, you can receive high-quality care at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s award-winning Queens cardiology center. To schedule an appointment, please call (718) 206-7100.

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 a Plant-Based Diet Can Help Your Heart Health

Plant-based diets, which prioritize foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains with only small, occasional servings of animal protein, are associated with a lower risk of heart disease at any age. However, not everyone may fully understand what a healthy, nutritious plant-based diet looks like.

A wide variety of foods can fall under the “plant-based” umbrella, with many options not necessarily providing significant benefits to your heart health. Some foods, such as white rice and white bread, are highly processed, meaning that you will not receive many of the necessary nutrients to promote better heart health from them. Other foods that are best avoided include those that are high in sugar, sodium, and extra additives.

A plant-based diet does not have to involve cutting out all meat. You can make beneficial changes for your heart health by keeping your overall meat consumption at a moderate level and by eating healthier types of meat. It is recommended that you stick to unprocessed red meat and poultry, as well as limit your meat portions to approximately three 3.5-ounce servings each week.

Fish can also be a healthy, beneficial element of a plant-based diet. Similarly, however, you should keep your intake at a moderate level, meaning that you should limit your fish consumption to two servings of approximately 3 ounces of fish per week. Fatty fish such as salmon, herring, and mackerel can be a particularly beneficial addition to your diet.

Remember that what you eat is not the only thing that matters when it comes to your heart health; you also need to monitor how much you eat and how physically active you are. Make sure to stay within the recommended number of calories for you to consume each day and to follow an exercise routine that incorporates strength and aerobic activities three days per week.

If you experience heart problems or may be at risk of heart disease, you can schedule an appointment with a cardiologist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Cardiology Department by calling (718) 206-7100.

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.

Coping With Mental Health Challenges After A Heart Attack

Having a heart attack can be frightening; therefore, it is common for people to experience anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or depression after surviving this life-changing event.  In fact, the risk of depression is three times higher in heart attack survivors when compared to the general population; more than 25% of survivors experience anxiety after a heart attack, and 1 in 8 heart attack survivors experience symptoms of PTSD.

Mental health challenges often develop after a cardiac event because there is an uncertainty of things to come or a fear that it can happen again.

Feeling afraid, sad, confused, worried, stressed, or angry is expected in the days or weeks of having survived a heart attack.  However, it is important that these emotions are addressed with urgency and managed because they can affect recovery.  Untreated stress, anxiety, or depression can lead to physical symptoms such as increased heart rate or blood pressure that put a strain on the heart.

Being aware of these negative emotions and learning how to cope can improve mental health.  This can be achieved by identifying triggers and practicing stress or anxiety-reducing exercises such as:

  • Speaking to someone about how you feel
  • Socializing
  • Practicing mindfulness
  • Challenging negative thoughts and thinking positively
  • Practicing deep breathing
  • Practicing gratitude
  • Spending time in nature
  • Exercising
  • Eating well
  • Getting enough sleep

In addition to practicing stress management exercises or other coping techniques, it is important to seek the assistance of a mental health provider to create a treatment plan to manage the symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, or depression.

To schedule an appointment with a mental health professional at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-206-5575.

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 Difference Between A Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest

Heart attack and cardiac arrest are terms that are often used interchangeably; however, the two are very different life-threatening emergencies.  A heart attack is best described as a circulation problem, while a cardiac arrest is described as an electrical problem.

A heart attack or myocardial infarction occurs when blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart is severely reduced or blocked.  This blockage can be caused by the buildup of cholesterol, fat deposits, or other substances in the coronary arteries. The decreased flow of blood and oxygen to the heart muscle can lead to severe damage or death. The most common symptoms of a heart attack are:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, back, arm, shoulder, or stomach
  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness

Time is of the essence when treating a heart attack. Each minute that goes by can result in more damage to the heart.  Emergency treatment, which includes medications, surgery, or a combination of both, is needed to restore the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart.

Cardiac arrest occurs when there is an electrical malfunction of the heart that causes it to stop pumping blood to other parts of the body. This can result in the loss of consciousness or death if not treated quickly.   The signs of a cardiac arrest are immediate and can include:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Collapsing suddenly
  • Not breathing or gasping for air

Treatment for cardiac arrest should be immediate. Cardiac arrest may be reversed if CPR is performed, and a defibrillator shocks the heart to restore a normal rhythm within a few minutes.  Emergency treatment is needed to treat complications that may have resulted from cardiac arrest.

Jamaica Hospital Medical Center is recognized as a Primary Heart Attack Center by The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association. This certification reflects the hospital’s commitment to providing a high standard of cardiac care to heart attack patients.

Jamaica Hospital’s Cardiology Department cardiology takes pride in providing patients with the very best in heart health care. Our experts provide a wide range of inpatient and outpatient cardiovascular services for those with known or suspected diseases of the heart and blood vessels. To schedule an appointment with our cardiologists, please call 718-206-7100.

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.

Pericarditis

There are several reasons why chest pain should never be ignored, pericarditis is one of them.

Pericarditis is the swelling and inflammation of the pericardium- the thin, saclike tissue that surrounds the heart. Pericarditis can affect people of all ages, but men ages 16 to 65 are more likely to develop it.

The causes of pericarditis can include:

  • An infection
  • A heart attack
  • Systemic inflammatory disorders such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Trauma
  • Certain medications
  • Health disorders such as AIDS, kidney failure, cancer, or tuberculosis

Sharp or stabbing chest pain is the most common symptom of pericarditis; however, other signs and symptoms may also occur.  They include:

  • Coughing
  • A low-grade fever
  • Abdominal or leg swelling
  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath

According to the American Heart Association, “Pericarditis can be acute, meaning it happens suddenly and typically doesn’t last long. Or the condition may be “chronic,” meaning that it develops over time and may take longer to treat. Both types of pericarditis can disrupt your heart’s normal function. In rare cases, pericarditis can have very serious consequences, possibly leading to abnormal heart rhythm and death.”

Pericarditis is usually mild and may clear up with rest or simple treatments.  Treatment in more severe cases can include medications or surgery.

If you are experiencing chest pains, it is important that you see a doctor right away. Early diagnosis and treatment can help to reduce the risk of complications caused by pericarditis.

To schedule an appointment with a cardiologist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-206-7100.

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.

Facts About Aspirin Therapy

Daily aspirin therapy is sometimes recommended for people who are at risk for heart attacks or diagnosed with certain heart diseases. While this form of therapy is effective, it may not be the right form of treatment for everyone.

Taking occasional doses of aspirin is typically safe; however, daily use can lead to serious side effects.  This is why it is highly advised that you speak with your doctor to determine if this approach is best for you. Serious side effects of aspirin can include:

  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • A stroke resulting from a burst blood vessel
  • Allergic reactions

Recommendations for daily aspirin use may vary from person-to-person. Your doctor may recommend this regimen if you have:

  • Coronary artery disease or atherosclerosis
  • Had a heart attack
  • Had a transient ischemic attack or stroke
  • Had bypass surgery or a stent placement procedure

Your doctor may not recommend daily aspirin therapy if you:

  • Have a bleeding or clotting disorder
  • Have bleeding stomach ulcers
  • Have an aspirin intolerance
  • Drink alcohol regularly
  • Are undergoing certain medical or dental procedures

If you are considering daily aspirin therapy, you must consult your physician before you begin.  You should inform your doctor about any health conditions or risks you may have that will increase the chances of complications.  Provide a list of medications that you are taking, as some may contribute to drug interactions and adverse effects.  Based on the current condition of your health, your doctor will advise you as to whether or not daily aspirin therapy is right for you.

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.

Heart Disease and Hot Weather

Summertime heat affects everyone, but for people who suffer from heart disease, it can be life threatening. Activities that are performed when the weather is mild may not have much risk associated with them but once the temperature rises they can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. People with heart disease are very susceptible to extreme weather conditions.

When we are exposed to the heat, our bodies respond by sweating, which is the body’s way to maintain a normal temperature. . Heat as well as the body’s response to it, leads to enlarged blood vessels, lower blood pressure and higher heart rate. This combination can cause people with heart problems to serious problems due to the stress on the cardiovascular system. If the heart is already weakened it may not be able to pump blood effectively and keep the blood pressure at a high enough level. This can lead to an overheating of the body. Some medications that are prescribed for heart patients also lower the heart rate, which can be compounded during the hot weather.

Some helpful tips for people with heart disease in the hot weather are:

  • Stay out of the heat during the middle of the day
  • Wear clothing that is loose fitting and light
  • Do not perform strenuous activities in hot weather
  • Keep hydrated and avoid alcohol and caffeine.
  • Stay indoors in an air conditioned environment

Discuss with your physician ways to stay healthy during the hot summer months. If you would like to schedule an appointment with a cardiologist at Jamaica Hospital, please call 718-206-6742.

Jamaica  Hospital Medical Center has reopened many of its healthcare services. To learn about the safety measures the hospital has taken to protect your health, please visit https://jamaicahospital.org/to-our-patients/

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.

Heart Valve Disease

Heart Valve Disease

Our hearts have four valves:  the aortic, mitral, pulmonary and tricuspid valves.  They work together to keep blood flowing in the correct direction; through the heart’s chambers and to the rest of the body. 

Heart valve disease occurs when one or more of our heart valves do not work properly, disrupting the flow of blood throughout our bodies.  This disease can be congenital (developing before birth) or acquired (developing after birth). Heart valve disease can lead to serious complications such as stroke, heart failure, blood clots, heart rhythms abnormalities or death.

The three main problems encountered in heart valve disease are:

  • Stenosis- which occurs when the flaps of a heart valve do not fully open due to the thickening of valve tissue. This makes the heart work harder to pump blood which can lead to heart failure. Stenosis can develop as a result of a buildup of calcium or other deposits on the valves. 
  • Regurgitation – this happens when the valve doesn’t close all the way. If our valves do not close correctly this will cause blood to leak backward into the heart and less blood to flow to our bodies.
  • Atresia- this is present at birth and occurs as a result of the valve not being developed. Instead of a valve, a piece of tissue forms that restricts the flow of blood.

Stenosis and regurgitation can be caused by pre-existing heart conditions, age-related changes, rheumatic fever or infections. There are no known causes for atresia.

Some people with heart valve disease may not experience symptoms during the early stages of the disease. When symptoms present they can include:

  • A heart murmur or an unusual heartbeat
  • Heart palpitations
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fainting
  • Swollen ankles, feet or belly

Several factors can increase the risk of heart valve disease. Risk factors include:

  • Older age ( As you age your heart valves become stiffer and thicker)
  • A history  of infective endocarditis
  • Rheumatic fever resulting from an untreated strep infection
  • Heart conditions present at birth
  • Atherosclerosis (buildup of plaque inside the arteries),  heart attack, advanced heart failure or other conditions that can cause harm to the heart valves

If you are experiencing symptoms of heart valve disease, you should inform your doctor.   A physical examination will be conducted during which your doctor will listen for a heart murmur.  Your doctor may order a series of diagnostic tests such as an echocardiography, chest X-ray, cardiac MRI or electrocardiogram to evaluate your heart’s health. 

Treatment for heart valve disease may include surgery or medications. Your doctor will most likely recommend that you make heart-healthy lifestyle changes.

To schedule an appointment with a  cardiologist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-206-7100.

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.

Don’t Ignore The Signs of A Ministroke

Ministroke also known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA) occurs when there is a temporary interruption of blood flow to part of the brain.

The symptoms of a ministroke are sometimes ignored because they typically last only for a few minutes (in some instances up to 24 hours), and may mimic symptoms of migraines, low blood sugar or seizures.

Although the symptoms of a ministroke generally do not cause permanent damage, they must not be dismissed. One in three people who have a ministroke are at risk of having a major stroke within a year; therefore, it is important to pay attention to the warning signs.  Signs and symptoms of TIA include:

  • Numbness or weakness of the face, legs or arms (especially on one side of the body)
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden headache
  • Slurred speech or difficulty understanding others

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important that you seek immediate medical attention. Prompt treatment can reduce your risk of having a major stroke.

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.