Answers to Common Questions

Conditions

Find answers to frequently asked questions about a variety of health conditions, like heart attack, high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation.

  • What is fatigue?
  • Fatigue is often described as extreme tiredness and can affect either physical health, mental health, or both. Most often, fatigue is caused by a number of factors such diet or lack of sleep and exercise. In some cases, however, fatigue may be a sign of underlying conditions, such as depression, sleep apnea, heart disease and diabetes. It’s important to discuss feelings of fatigue with a doctor to help identify the cause and relieve symptoms.

  • What is dementia?
  • Dementia includes a group of symptoms that affect memory, thinking and social skills and that interfere with normal daily functioning. Common symptoms include memory loss, difficulty finding words, personality changes and inability to reason. It’s important to see a doctor if you or a loved one experiences symptoms, as some causes can be treated.
  • What is an arrhythmia?
  • An arrhythmia is an abnormal heart rhythm that causes the heart to beat too quickly, too slowly or irregularly. There are many types of arrhythmias, some of which are harmless. However, treatment may be required depending on the type and severity of arrhythmia a patient has.

  • What is vasovagal syncope?
  • Vasovagal syncope is the most common cause of fainting. It occurs when heart rate and blood pressure suddenly drop, causing a brief loss of consciousness. Vasovagal syncope is often triggered by stressful events, such as seeing blood or getting a shot. Although fainting is generally not serious, it’s important to see a doctor if it happens often or is associated with other symptoms like shortness of breath or chest pain.

  • Is it hard to conceive when taking normalol and tambocor for supraventricular tachycardia
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  • What is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)?
  • COPD is a chronic disease that makes it hard to breathe. COPD is often caused by smoking and can cause symptoms like difficulty breathing, coughing and wheezing. Although COPD worsens over time, proper treatment and management helps improve outcomes and quality of life.  

  • What is microvascular disease?
  • Microvascular disease, or non-obstructive heart disease, occurs when the heart’s small blood vessels are damaged, decreasing blood flow to the heart. Women develop non-obstructive heart disease more often than men. Diagnosing this condition can be a challenge, since standard tests are not designed to detect this microvascular disease.

  • What is familial hypercholesterolemia?
  • Familial hypercholesterolemia (or FH) is a genetic condition that causes high cholesterol levels beginning at birth. FH happens when the body is unable to remove the low density lipoprotein (“bad”) cholesterol from the blood. When the body can’t eliminate bad cholesterol, it builds up in the arteries and can cause heart disease earlier in life than normal. Left undiagnosed and untreated, individuals with FH are at significantly increased risk for heart disease, heart attack, stroke and other serious complications.
  • What is cardiomyopathy?
  • Cardiomyopathy refers to diseases of the heart muscle, which cause the heart to become weaker and can lead to serious complications such as heart failure, abnormal heart rhythm or heart valve problems. Cardiomyopathy can vary in severity, as some patients can have no symptoms while others have debilitating symptoms that require immediate treatment. However, cardiomyopathy often worsens over time, weakening the heart and making it difficult for the heart to pump enough blood to the rest of the body.
  • How is cardiomyopathy treated?
  • Treatment depends on which major type of cardiomyopathy a patient has. However, goals of treatment are usually to minimize symptoms, reduce risk of complications and prevent the condition from worsening. Treatment options may include medication, surgery, and/or medical devices.

  • What is peripartum cardiomyopathy?
  • Peripartum cardiomyopathy is a rare disorder in which a pregnant woman’s heart becomes weakened and enlarged. This condition typically develops during the last month of pregnancy or within the first five months after the baby is born.

  • How can I help prevent a second heart attack?
  • Patients with a history of heart attack have significantly increased risk of a second heart event. Participating in a cardiac rehabilitation program can help patients regain strength after a heart attack and teach individuals how to prevent a second heart attack, like by quitting smoking, reducing blood pressure, staying active, eating healthy, and adhering to therapies advised by the doctor.
  • Is it safe to have sex after a heart attack?
  • Although many people are afraid to resume sexual activity after a heart attack, the risk of having a heart attack during sex is low for most patients. However, it’s important to discuss resuming both physical activity and sex after a heart attack to reduce risk of a second event.
  • What is atherosclerosis?
  • Atherosclerosis is the hardening of the arteries caused by the build-up of fat and cholesterol on the artery walls. Atherosclerosis can lead to serious health problems, such as heart attackstroke and even death.
  • How is atherosclerosis treated?
  • Treatment for atherosclerosis may include lifestyle changes, medication and/or medical procedures, depending on the severity of plaque build-up in the arteries. Lifestyle changes like eating healthy, staying activequitting smoking and reducing stress can help reduce risk of complications from atherosclerosis. Certain medications like cholesterol and blood pressure-lowering drugs may also be prescribed to slow the progress of plaque build-up. If atherosclerosis is severe, certain procedures may also be recommended to open blocked or narrowed arteries.
  • What is an aortic dissection?
  • Aortic dissection occurs when there is a tear in the wall of the heart’s major artery, called the aorta. As the tear extends, it can cause bleeding and if not treated promptly, can be fatal. Aortic dissection is relatively uncommon and risk increases with age.
  • What is a thoracic aortic aneurysm?
  • A thoracic aortic aneurysm occurs when the upper part of the aorta is weakened. A thoracic aneurysm can eventually lead to a life-threatening tear in the aorta, called an aortic dissection. When a thoracic aortic aneurysm is detected, doctors may watch the growth rate of the aneurysm to determine the best possible treatment.
  • What is ejection fraction?
  • Ejection fraction is a test used to measure the amount of blood leaving the heart each time it contracts.  Doctors typically measure ejection fraction when a patient shows signs of or is diagnosed with heart failure. Ejection fraction tells a doctor how well the heart pumps with each beat, which is used to determine the best possible treatment options to improve outcomes and quality of life.
  • How common are congenital heart defects?
  • Congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defect, affecting roughly 1% of all births in the United States. Thanks to advancements in treatments, it’s estimated that 1 million adults are now living with a congenital heart defect.
  • What are congenital heart defects?
  • Congenital heart defects refer to a number of different conditions that can occur when a baby’s heart is forming or at birth. Although most defects are found during pregnancy or in early childhood, some defects aren’t discovered until adulthood. Survival rates depend on the severity of the heart defect, but most individuals with congenital heart defects live long and healthy lives.
  • What is left ventricular hypertrophy?
  • Left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) occurs when the muscle tissue in the heart’s main pumping chamber becomes enlarged. LVH is often caused by high blood pressure or other heart problems and can lead to serious complications, such as heart diseaseheart attack and heart failure. The good news is that LVH can often be treated by addressing the underlying cause of the condition.
  • How is atrial fibrillation treated?
  • In general, the goals of atrial fibrillation treatment are to promote a regular heart rhythm or rate and prevent blood clots, which can cause stroke. However, treatment strategies depend on the unique needs of each patient. Treatment options may include antiarrhythmic medication, blood thinners, and a variety of procedures that can help control atrial fibrillation.
  • At what age should I worry about heart disease?
  • Risk factors that lead to heart disease often develop slowly over time and can take decades to develop. That’s why it’s important to make healthy lifestyle choices like eating healthystaying active and maintaining a healthy weight, at all stages in life. As an adult, it’s especially important to work closely with your doctor to monitor key risk factors and address any risk factors to reduce risk for heart disease.
  • At what age should I worry about my cholesterol?
  • More than one-third of Americans have high cholesterol and risk for high cholesterol increases with age. However, high cholesterol can be a problem at any age. It’s estimated that 22% of adults in their 20s have high cholesterol and 62% of adults in their 50s have high cholesterol. It’s important to have cholesterol checked regularly and make healthy lifestyle choices like eating healthy and staying active, which help control cholesterol levels.